Demonstrative process for the production and enzymatic recycling of environmentally safe, superior, and versatile PHA-based rigid packaging solutions by plasma integration in the value chain.
The increasing public desire for sustainable products is driving a growing demand for bioplastics in the packing sector in order to minimise environmental impacts. Biopolymers such as polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) – which are 100% bio-based and have exceptional biodegradability characteristics - have proven particularly popular. So popular, in fact, that they are expected to rise from 1.2% to 6.6% of the global production of bioplastics. However, meeting this growing demand will require further sources of raw materials without affecting biowaste value chains; the challenge will therefore be to rely on second and third generation sugar sources, rather than primary ones.
A potential source of these raw materials is brew spent grains, which is a by-product of the brewing industry. Its use as a feedstock is currently limited; most of it goes to animal feed, some for bioethanol, while 20% goes to landfill. It is a challenging raw material – it has a high moisture content, low levels of fermentable sugar content and can spoil quickly. At the same time, however, it offers a number of potential advantages as a feedstock for PHA. It is produced in substantial quantities, it is widely available all year round, is relatively stable (compared to other food-based by-products) and the prior malting and mashing make it relatively easily to isolate the 2G sugars.
The ultimate goal of the BioSupPack project is to deliver novel, cost-competitive and versatile bio-based packaging solutions based on PHA. These will be derived from highly (>85%) renewable, second- and third-generation raw materials, and will provide high-performance packaging for food and drink, cosmetics and homecare products.
The overarching objective of the BioSupPack project is to demonstrate deliver novel, cost-competitive and versatile bio-based packaging solutions based on PHA. Within this, it will pursue a number of specific objectives.
- From an environmental perspective, it will help reduce the quantity of packaging that currently goes to landfill or incineration, by using enzymatic recycling to transform PHA/PHB to a source of carbon.
- Bio-based plastics also have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the value chain as a whole, by saving non-renewable, carbon-based resources. Overall, this will contribute to achieving the EU’s long-term goal of a climate-neutral Europe by 2050.
- From an economic perspective, the project will set out the basis for acceptable production costs of the targeted biobased products.
- It will also create a number of business opportunities for new, innovative, and sustainable packaging solutions with no adverse impact on the environment.
Overall, the BioSupPack project provides a number of other environmental, social and economic contributions. These will include reducing pollution (including the presence of microplastics) and improving the innovation capacity within Europe in this developing sector.
The overarching objective of the BioSupPack project is to demonstrate deliver novel, cost-competitive and versatile bio-based packaging solutions based on PHA. Within this, it will pursue a number of specific objectives. The BioSupPack project is aiming to delivering a number of impacts that will contribute to the wider goals of the BBI-JU These will include:
- Creating a new circular cross-sectional interconnection between the brewing industry and enzymatic recycling. It will also reinforce a number of existing connections between the packaging sector – already the largest consumer of biodegradable and bio-based plastics – and the bioplastics sector, by providing new options in food and drink, homecare and personal care applications.
- Creating three new value chains, by establishing new interconnections upstream in the chain for obtaining new bio-based raw materials and process polymers. It will also remodel existing value chains, making them value circles incorporating compounders, plastics converters, etc.
- Bring two new PHA-based materials to the market suitable for rigid packaging. These will include bottles and fibre-based packaging such as bowls, trays and cups.
Introduce two new consumer-oriented packaging products, in the form of high-performing rigid mono-material packaging with excellent barrier properties and coated and grafted fibre-based packages: wet coated and grafted paper structures, with unique functionalities - e.g. suitable for microwaving while remaining compatible with optimal end of life properties.