The aim of this project is to provide novel solutions for the two major societal challenges we are facing today; plastic waste (from food packaging) and food waste.
Around 26 million tons of plastic waste is generated each year in EU. Around 60% of this plastic waste is packaging related. The foremost challenge in achieving circular economy of food grade plastics is the separation of post-consumer food grade plastics at the material recovery facilities (MRF). The sorting of rigid black plastic is another problem. It currently ends up in land fill or incineration due to the limitations with the material-sorting systems used at the MRF. According to the UN, one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons worth around $1 trillion per year. The active packaging systems with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties have great potential to improve the shelf-life and food safety of the products however, there are existing technological challenges which need to be addressed before these packaging systems can be adopted commercially.
The short to midterm goal of the project is to develop, test and demonstrate smart packaging solutions for improved functionality of the food packaging. The intelligent solutions proposed will facilitate the achievement of improved recycling efficiencies through better sorting of post-consumer food grade plastics and will help in accomplishing the goal of circular economy of food grade plastics. Furthermore, improved food safety, shelf life and better preservation of food quality will be achieved by proposed shelf stable active packaging solutions. To address the complex challenge of food and plastic waste, this project aims to combine the expertise from physical and colloid chemistry, analytical chemistry, polymer science, microbiology, material processing, food safety and packaging.
Around 26 million tons of plastic waste is generated each year in EU. Similarly, one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. The food waste is significantly high in the meat and fish products due to their high susceptibility of enzymatic, microbial and oxidative spoilage, which limits their shelf-life. The project aims to provide novel solutions for these two major societal challenges; plastic waste (from food packaging) and food waste. The goal of the project is to develop, test and demonstrate novel active and intelligent packaging solutions based on functional nanomaterials for improved functionality of the food packaging. In this project smart labels will be printed to achieve positive/negative differentiation of food grade plastics at the material sorting and recycling facilities. The novel sorting technology is expected to improve the sorting efficiency of rigid plastics, especially black plastics which are currently not sorted at the automated recycling facilities due to technological challenges. This will simultaneously result in improved recycling efficiencies and reuse of recycled materials for food packaging applications. Likewise, novel functional materials will be developed and incorporated in the packaging to achieve prolonged antimicrobial and antioxidant effect. This will result in improved food safety and shelf-life of highly perishable fish and meat products, which can significantly reduce waste from these products. In addition, the collaboration with industry partners will result in development of commercially viable solutions aligned with market demand and will lead to the commercial exploitation of the results produced in the project.