An industry-driven collaboration is aiming to develop groundbreaking sustainable food packaging materials with built in active and intelligent technology to extend shelf life.
ISA-Pack, a three-year multi-million Euro initiative funded under the EU Seventh Framework Programme, brings together companies and research organisations from five European countries.
The 10 member alliance is targeting the development of a novel unsaturated polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) copolymer material in a bid to boost food safety and cut food waste through the supply chain by as much as 75%.
The main goal is to make the copolymer material derived from sustainable feed-stocks that are able to demonstrate high-performance barrier properties.
While the teams will look to develop two films suitable for a wide range of foods, the project will focus on validating materials for gas barrier modified atmosphere and stretch wrap packaging for fresh meat.
PHB has been chosen because its characteristics meet many of the aims of the target material, project manager Marie Cook (pictured below) of UK Materials Technology Research Institute (MaTRI) told FoodProductionDaily.com.
The material is obtained from microbial fermentation of sustainable feedstock, it is easily modified by synthetic or biological techniques and is readily biodegradable. PHB also has the material thermal and mechanical properties suited to industrial packaging production techniques and packaging materials requirements, she added.
Active and intelligent
The partners will employ their unique expertise to develop individual parts of the puzzle, with the pieces combined at the end to make a single product that they hope will meet all the targets, said Cook. Each partner will own the intellectual property rights to the aspect they develop.
She noted there was “considerable technical challenge in some of these areas” but said the team had been chosen for their specialised know-how.
“We are extremely optimistic that we will achieve our targets,” she said.
Further key elements of the project will be the active packaging solution that must be embedded into the co-polymer, along with the development of an accurate, tuneable and reliable intelligent indicator system that to directly printed onto packaging materials.
UK-based Campden BRI will be leading on this aspect of the project.
The project kicked off earlier this year and is due to be completed by the end of 2014. Partners in the scheme are:
- The UK Materials Technology Research Institute, United Kingdom;The University of Birmingham, United Kingdom;
- Campden BRI, United Kingdom;
- Instituto Tecnologico del Embalage Transporte y Logistica ITENE, Spain;
- Doming Printing Sciences, United Kingdom;
- Biopac (UK), United Kingdom;
- FKUR Kunststoff, Germany;
- Omniform, Belgium;
- Intrex, Poland;
- Asociacion Empreserial de Investigacion Centreo Tecnologico del Calzadoy del Plastico de la Region de Mercia (CETEC), Spain.