Researchers deliver green plastics for food packaging

Most plastics currently used to package food are made from petrochemicals and are not biodegradable. While industry has been seeking greener, sustainable alternatives the solution has so far been elusive - food packaging must meet high quality and safety standards.

To help, the EU has been funding research projects to develop greener, sustainable alternatives, cut waste and boost Europe’s competitiveness in alternative plastics.

Promising candidates have emerged from the SUSFOFLEX project, which produced novel packaging using polylactic acid (PLA), and from SUCCIPACK, which adapted polybutylene succinate (PBS) for use by the food industry.

PLA and PBS can be made from by-products left over from farming crops such as wheat, corn and beetroot. The two plastics are biodegradable - they can be broken down into their basic constituents, such as water, carbon dioxide and compost.

Both projects laid the groundwork for the commercialisation of PLA and PBS for food packaging.

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