About the project

USABLE PACKAGING will develop high performance plastic packaging through a sustainable and fully circular value chain, where the biomass raw material sourcing derives from food processing side streams, to obtain, via a low footprint biochemical processing, bio-based biodegradable building block materials that will enable the realisation of:

  • complex packaging structures, including laminates and multilayer films, to match key functional requirements of commercial petrochemical plastics, such as gas/ liquid barrier properties, mechanical resistance, cold temperature resistance, hot tack, among others
  • a full set of packaging items from rigid to semi rigid and flexible by tuning the functionalisation of base resins through bio-synthesis and the compound processing.

    The USABLE PACKAGING concept is designed to retrofit the existing state-of-the-art packaging processing technology by controlling the chemical and physical properties of the base building blocks materials. Unlike its petrochemical peers, USABLE PACKAGING offers a sustainable end-of-life solution, since, on one hand, materials are biodegradable with no harm to the environment, and on the other hand they have potential to deliver additional economic value through:

    • organic recycling for the production of biogas, with the same consolidated disposal route as bio-waste, or
    • biotech recycling, to be used again as feedstock for the production of the same base resins for USABLE Packaging, basically closing again and again the same value chain to re-obtain virgin materials.

    Project Start: 1 June 2019

    Project ends in:

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    The project will build up a complete new value chain where a low cost and widely available feedstock, such as by-products and side-streams of the food processing industry and the correlated biogenic CO2, is converted into poly-hydroxy-alkanoates (PHA) by advance processes using both mixed and pure microbial cultures. 

    The main objectives of the project are the following:

    • The creation of bio-packaging solutions to cover a wide range of packaging needs for food, drinks, pharma and clothing, based on bioplastics with adequate physical and chemical properties.
    • The development of bio-packaging solutions with clear end-of-life scenario options, with economic added value such as organic recycling intended for anaerobic digestion or composting or else re-digestion to obtain new virgin PHA in a closed cycle.
    • The definition of new vertically integrated and circular value chains where food-processing by-products/residues and biogenic CO2 are transformed into compostable and recyclable bio-packaging, via low-environmental-footprint processes.
    • The optimisation of PHA functionalisation to match requirements for end-use in packaging.
    • The optimisation of the processes for transformation of functional PHA into packaging, including compounding functionalisation extrusion, blown film process, multilayer
    • The production of adhesive layers to replace petrochemical CASE peers, by on-line functionalisation thus overcoming the current main bottlenecks for bio-based multilayer films.
    • The reduction of the environmental footprint of the plastic packaging sector.
    • Considering emissions, while local feedstocks supply network is considered, avoiding negative C-footprint through long distance transportation.
    • The project drafts a roadmap for a more efficient, low carbon economy, based on local and circular value chains, designed to ensure a circular feedstock supply and also a fully circular end of life,
    • it will develop a set of biodegradable packaging products fully mature and suitable to replace peer fossil-based products in technologically advanced applications.

    USABLE PACKAGING will offer a new and break-through vision of bioplastics, combining recyclability, which creates an after-use economy, with biodegradability, to reduce pollution from non-recyclable plastic packaging

    • To create a more resource efficient and low carbon economy through use of renewable biological resources
    • Production of innovative materials to be used in the packaging value chain with low end of life impacts
    • Generation of new business opportunities in innovative industries in the EU
    • Valorisation of currently low value feedstocks such as waste from agro-industrial processes.

    USABLE PACKAGING will have a substantial impact on the acceleration of the development of (new) sustainable value chains from biomass feedstock supply via efficient processing, as well as on the acceptance and application of bio-based products in the end-markets, which is the key direction set by the AWP 2017.

    The success of USABLE PACKAGING will result in a case of biomass feedstock suppliers well integrated with end market users of biomass processed into plastics. The key success factor for the expected impact of USABLE PACKAGING is to create a ‘market pull’ for bioplastics by identifying the best fit of product performances with the most relevant requirements for selected end-use applications.

    USABLE PACKAGING fully responds to the specific challenge of R10 to make the end-of-life phase for packaging significantly more sustainable, because it establishes a circular value chain as the route to sustainable end-of-life.

    • KPI 1: “create at least one new cross-sector interconnection in bio-based economy”, which USABLE PACKAGING creates across the food processing industry and plastics manufacturing;
    • KPI 2: “set the basis for at least one new bio-based value chain” , which USABLE PACKAGING would create with a fully circular European dimension, from supply to bio-recycling through a full range of packaging grades;
    • KPI 6: “create at least two new demonstrated ‘consumer’ products based on bio-based chemicals and materials that meet market requirements” with the objective of substituting market products with innovative alternatives; USABLE PACKAGING will provide three innovative fully bio-based and biodegradable products, such as bio-based Hot tack film, high barrier food packaging and pharma sachets;
    • KPI 8: “validate at least one new and improved processing technology reflecting the ‘TRL gain’ since the start of the project” with the objective of achieving TRL advancement for both a new and an existing technology, which for USABLE PACKAGING are those for the production of a bio-based adhesive layer, currently a gap for bio-based packaging, and multilayer technologies such as lamination and coating on one hand, multi-layer co-extrusion on the other hand.

    Moreover, several targets among those reported in the AWP are clearly achieved by the USABLE PACKAGING project: in particular, more of 20% of the EU contribution is allocated to SMEs, reaching in this case more than 35%. Further, the project contributes to increase the share of participants from associated countries, having a coordinator from Switzerland.

    Also the strategic orientation 3 for 2018 is clearly addressed with the USABLE PACKAGING project focussing on the development of innovative bio-based products for very well identified market use, ensuring market relevance through a broad participation of large industries to give input on the product design and feedback on the testing.

    The packaging grades to be developed will cover: hot tack film; High Barrier Food packaging bags; Medium Barrier Food packaging bags; Pharma liquid sachets; Low SIT general purpose packaging; Deep freeze packaging; Heavy duty transparent design packaging for clothing applications to replace petrochemical LLDPE/LPE mixtures with bio-based fully circular alternative.

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