Expected Results of EcoBioCAP are the following:

EcoBioCAP will support the development of biodegradable food packaging from food industry by-products and address food and packaging European competitiveness while ensuring consumer and environmental safety. This will be done via the following specific achievements:

1.    To create innovative and competitive biodegradable food packaging materials from food industry by-products with strong SME involvement.
2.    To provide relevant scientific knowledge on biodegradable materials science and an integrated knowledge based approach for biodegradable packaging for food.
3.    To provide an answer to society’s concerns regarding food safety and environmental issues of food industry and food packaging.

Progresses and Results of EcoBioCAP between March 2011 and August 2013 are the following:

Each work package has achieved its objectives planned for the period and progresses are briefly described.

In WP1 - integrated analysis of packaging specifications, dimensioning and decision support system, packaging requirements for maintaining quality and safety of respiring and inert fresh foods were assessed, stakeholders needs were mapped and analysed. A systematic approach was applied to develop the packaging specifications of targeted products, based on agreeing on packaging development briefs, collecting the available knowledge, carrying out experimental work and consumer surveys.

The first prototype of the decision support system (DSS) combined two modules. The first one computes the list of the relevant packaging taking into account the virtual MAP model and data stored in food and packaging databases. This ranking is obtained from a multi-criteria query, which takes into account food quality but also other users preferences or constraints. The first version of the second module of the DSS aggregates preferences expressed by the stakeholders into consensual preferences using an argumentation approach.


In WP2 - development of packaging constituents by upgrading food industry by-products, the production, characterization and optimization of three mains constituents, to be used for formulating packaging in WP3, were performed:

(1) Microbial polyesters (PHAs) from liquid effluents: PHAs with targeted functional properties have been successfully synthesized from olive mill wastewaters (OMW) and cheese whey (CW), with similar PHA yield. Because OMW requires preliminary phenol recovery, CW was selected for up-scaling the production.

(2) fiber-based fractions from solid by-products were obtained from wheat straw, brewing grains and olive pomace. Impact milling process was selected as the best compromise between particle size and energy consumption.

(3) Tailored and high performance additives and adhesives: extraction yield of cellulose nano-cristals from the previous solid by-products suggested a non-economical viable process. Pure keratin was extracted from chicken feathers. Anti-oxidant nanoclays were successfully developed from polyphenolic extracts of olive waste water and pomace as well as bio-adhesives based on zein and pullulan.


In the WP3 - formulation and structuration of finalized materials, the best respiring bio-composite materials were obtained from PHBV and wheat straw fibres (up to 30%) by thermo-moulding process, with increased gas (O2 and CO2) and water vapour permeability with wheat straw content. Barrier properties of PHBV monolayers obtained by casting and melt-compounding were improved by adding cellulose nano-crystal and antioxidant nanoclays derived from polyphenols. To improve the mechanical properties of PHBV and composites, plasticizers and others bio-polymers were introduced in the formulation (evaluation in progress).

Multilayers lid films and trays were developed by combining PHBV and composites with others bio-polymers and by using various processing technologies such as electrospinning technology. The extrusion blowing of bi-layered films seemed to be a very prospective option in terms of avoiding thermal load and resulting properties. Functional properties of developed structures were analysed in relation with their structure at different scales, morphology and thermal stability.


In WP4 - Assessment of packaging physical-chemical stability and chemical safety, work performed demonstrated an excellent stability of PHBV based materials during storage, in contact with micro-organisms and with all types of foods simulant except with ethanol 95% for which a significant swelling and an excess of overall migration (OM) were obtained. Introducing wheat straw fibres into the formulation increased OM with polar food simulant only (work in progress).


In WP5 - Assessing the environmental impact of the new biodegradable materials, first recommendations for optimizing formulations and manufacturing processes were elaborated based on LCA perspectives. LCA on packed food were initiated and eco-toxicity test feasibility demonstrated.


In WP6 - Industrial Applicability the production of PHA, wheat straw fibres fractions, cellulose, lignin rich fractions and zein-based adhesives were upscaled to small pilot plant and a logistic scheme was designed to ensure further smooth running of WP6.


The WP7 - Outreach turned out 21 publications submitted or accepted in peer-reviewed journals, 13 communications in major international conferences, the EcoBioCAP website, a brochure, ready to use slides and template for dissemination, 2 newsletters and various public exhibitions. A very active involvement of the stakeholders’ advisory board has to be mentioned.


The actual  public results of the project are regularly updated in this page. Come back soon!


 The following outputs of the project (public) are available online:

Read them in Media Centre section!

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