Full recyclable food package with enhanced gas barrier properties and new functionalities by the use of high performance coatings


RefuCoat seeks to develop hybrid bio-based high oxygen/water barrier and active coatings to be used in monolayer bio-based packaging (films and trays) as alternative to current metallised and modified atmosphere (MAP) packages.

Replacing oil-based packaging materials with bio-based ones could give a competitive advantage due to their more sustainable and greener image. Currently, bio-plastics represent about one percent of the about 300 million tonnes of plastic produced annually. But as demand is rising and with more sophisticated materials, applications, and products emerging, the market is already growing by about 20 to 100 percent per year.

RefuCoat will seek to demonstrate the potential and economic opportunity offered by the use of bio-based polymers, including PHA from food by-products and other commercial bio-polymers



RefuCoat has 10 objectives


  • Microbiological modification of middle chain polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) to achieve a polymer with high water barrier
  • Production and purification of glycolic acid (GA) for reactive extrusion polymerization from mono ethylene glycol (MEG) using gold based catalysts
  • Development of polyglycolic acid (PGA) low melting temperature based adhesives to be used in the hybrid coating formulations
  • Development of biodegradable Organic–Inorganic Hybrid Coatings based on the combination of modified silica oxide and PGA as a real alternative to metallised coatings
  • Incorporation of an active substance (antimicrobial and antioxidant) to the hybrid coating to enlarge the shelf life of selected foods. Shelf life target increase of selected food products up to 15%
  • To produce new packages based on Bio-PET + hybrid and active coating with high water and oxygen barriers
  • To produce new packages based on Bio-PE + hybrid and active coating with high water and medium oxygen barriers
  • To produce new packages based on PHA middle chain + hybrid and active coating with high water and medium oxygen barriers
  • To demonstrate the safety & regulatory compliance, as well as environmental & economic sustainability of the developed processes and products
  • To maximize the innovation impacts of the project for contributing to the uptake of the project results for companies, business and employment growth

RefuCoat will have the following impacts


  • Improved mechanical and/or functional properties of the developed packaging products in a specific field as compared with state-of-the-art.
  • In the event that the project focuses on biodegradability or composability – then its contribution to fulfilling the European objective of reducing the recyclable content in landfilled waste down to the targets as per the EC’s Landfill Directive, by showing reduction in landfilling as end-of-life option for packaging material as compared to baseline - should be considered as an impact. Biodegradability other than under industrial conditions should also be considered.
  • Reduction of costs, on a life cycle analysis basis, as compared to on-market materials.
  • In the event that the project focuses on the preservation of food products – then an Increase of at least 10% of the shelf life of the targeted products should be considered as an impact
  • Opening new markets for new applications of biodegradable material
  • Contribution to the BBI JU Key Performance Indicators (KPI), specifically:
  • Creation of at least 1 new cross-sectorial interconnection in bio-based economy clusters (KPI 1):
  • Set the basis for the creation of at least 1 new bio-based value chain based on the innovative products developed (KPI2), new bio-based materials (KPI 5), and for new demonstrated consumer products based on bio-based chemicals and materials (KPI 6), or significantly improve the production process of existing ones.

Project achievements & milestones

REFUCOAT project develops bio-based polymers and active coatings for sustainable food packaging
9 June 2021
Inexpensive, fossil fuel-based coated plastics keep foods fresher and safer for consumption, but their detrimental impact on the environment may outweigh their benefits. The BBI JU-funded REFUCOAT project has advanced bio-based alternatives leveraging microorganisms and natural metabolites. Read more

Bioplastics for high-performance sustainable packaging
27 November 2018
The aim of RefuCoat project is to develop totally recyclable and biodegradable packages for food products with proper safety characteristics, capable of extending the life of packaged products and therefore preventing food waste. Read more