The EuroPHAproject isco-fundedby the European Commissionin the Seventh Framework Programme FP7 – Capacities – for the benefit of SMEs and SMEs associations.Nine partners from different European Member States are involved in this 36-monthproject (1st October 2013to 30ht September 2016).
Food requires optimal preservation by a packaging that maintains quality and safety. These two aspects are taken for granted by the consumer when food is purchased, any food packaging material must always fulfill these two requirements: a) high thermal stability (quality) and b) high barrier properties (safety). Environmental awareness is nowadays creating a strong demand for more renewable and sustainable packaging materials that show equal or better performance than petrochemical plastics at a competitive price.
The EuroPHA project aims to develop an industrial process for low cost PHA production through the use of low value feedstock from agro-industrialwaste/surplus streams. The process will allow simultaneously reducing PHA bioplastics production costs allowing its market uptake, valorize agro-food waste, and produce new food packaging formulations with 100%, complete and short time biodegradability in anaerobic and aerobic conditions.
The role of Bioplasticsand PHA
Non-renewable petrochemical plastics are used because they are very cheap and they ensure quality and safe food packaging. In fact more than 99% of the materials processed in Europe are petrochemical plastics. After food is packaged with these plastics, consumers dispose them and it becomes a waste that is normally landfilled or burned. Plastics cannot be easily recycled. Food packaging is normally contaminated with food leftovers, which makes sorting more difficult and recycling more costly.
Bioplastics are plastics derived from renewable sources, such as vegetable fats and oils, corn, starch, etc. Some but not all bioplastics are designed to biodegrade. There is a variety of materials that bioplastics can be composed of, like starch or other biopolymers like PHA and PLA. However, they all present limitations for food packaging applications. Starch based plastics have poor moisture resistance while PLA plastics have low CO2 oxygen barrier properties. Although PHA can overcome these technical barriers, showing better performance than alternative biopolymers their market uptake is limited by their high production costs, mainly related to a high raw material cost and an inefficient production process.
- Federacionde Cooperativas Agrarias de Murcia
- Plastipolis (Fance)
- The British Plastics Federation LBG
- Nuevas Technologiaspara el Desarrollo de Packaging y Productos Agroalimentarios con Componente Plastica SL
- Instituto de Biologia Experimental e Tecnologica
- Tecnologías Avanzadas Inspiralia S.L.
The EuroPHA process for PHA bioplastic production:
EuroPHA will innovate in three areas of PHA life cycle for a Reduction of PHA final price:
- PHA production by Mixed Microbial Cultures. This makes possible the use of low-cost feedstock which are agro-food waste/surplus effluents that will decrease current raw material costs.
- PHA extraction, isolation and purification. Using physical techniques for extraction and isolation, and environmentally-friendly chemical purification, which will reduce production costs by 15%.
- PHA compounding into 100% compostable bioplastics (barrier film and foam trays) with >95% bio-based carbon for food packaging. High quality food-grade bioplastics that can be disposed together with food and managed as organic waste by industrial composting and anaerobic digestion EU standards.
The EUROPHA project is partly funded by the European Commission
In the Seventh Framework Programme.
Specific Programme: Capacities
Theme: Research for the Benefit of SMEs and SME Associations
Grant Agreement: 604770
For more information, visit our website at www.europha.eu