Developed using around 75% of raw materials from renewable sources, the new packaging material has polyactic acid (PLA), polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) and adhesive layers, as well as a wax coating produced from olive leaves.
The easy-to-recycle material protects its content from oxygen and humidity, preventing the development of bacteria and fungi.
Completed in April, the €1.5m project has been coordinated by Spain-based research technology centre AIMPLAS.
AIMPLAS main researcher Nuria López said: “The role of AIMPLAS in this project, besides coordinating it, has been focused on developing the biodegradable and oxygen-barrier material needed to comply with the final requirements of the food to be packaged, as well as being the responsible of processing the new materials developed to obtain the new multilayer packaging.”
Compared to other materials used to pack cheese and fresh pasta, the newly developed material reduces carbon footprint by 57%.
PLA is said to offer good mechanical properties and easy recycling, while PVOH provides a strong gas barrier with water solubility.
The PVOH can be removed during a washing process, which helps PLA to be isolated and recycled.
BIO4MAP project partner Fraunhofer has provided the packaging's external wax coating, which works as a water vapour barrier and improves the flexibility of PLA.
Vallés Plàstic, which was responsible for applying the new coating, and Artibal, a manufacturer of waxes, lacquers and inks, were also involved in BIO4MAP.
As part of the project, MAPEA and Finnish research centre Abo Akademi developed biodegradable adhesives, while France’s Bobino Plastique manufactured the packaging.