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Changing packaging for the better – What are the options when working with polymer and fibre-based packaging? Modifications, end-of-life scenarios from sorting to upcycling, and consumer perception are summarised in one report.

Executive summary

Consumers highly demanding the reduction of plastic waste, together with depleting fossil resources on the one hand, and sensitive products requiring sufficient protection on the other hand, represent conflicting priorities imposing industry and academic research to develop new sustainable packaging solutions, ideally redesigned for circularity. The present deliverable provides a comprehensive review of the fundamentals and recent advances of bio-based packaging including innovative packaging, new materials and techniques for the modification thereof as well as end-of-life and application scenarios.

An in-depth look is given into the composition and modification techniques of biobased film and multilayer structures. Particular attention is paid to readily available drop-in solutions as well as promising bio-based packaging constituents, such as polylactic acid and polyhydroxyalkanoates. Modification and coating techniques thereof as well as upcycling and biodegradation possibilities, and monitoring parameters are summarised and discussed. Furthermore, protein-based adhesives, coatings, films and multilayers especially but not exclusively from whey protein are extensively reviewed.

End-of-life aspects have also been analysed in terms of processes and standards. All bio-based packaging materials need to be fully examined starting from the use of raw material until its end-of-life option to determine its sustainability. Recent advances in sorting systems including detection methods and composting options as well as recycling and upcycling possibilities provide knowledge about end-of-life options of bio-based packaging material. The human factor in terms of consumer perception and acceptance towards upcycling is also considered. Furthermore, regulatory aspects are pointed out for each application scenario and end-of-life options.

This extensive review provides an overview of the current state of the complete life cycle of bio-based packaging. Up-to-date information including scientific articles, patents, and commercial information are summarised in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the most recent state of the art about biobased packaging.

This is a confidential deliverable, as such the full deliverable is not available to the public. An open-access state-of-the-art review is available on MDPI "Polymers" here.


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