Nowadays, traditional plastics are hugely used in the agri-food sector for packaging, thanks to their versatility, excellent and varied functional properties and low production and transformation costs. Over 90% of plastics derives from virgin fossil feedstock but, in recent years, huge concerns are emerging about plastics use and disposal (accumulation of waste, physical problems of wildlife, etc.). The risks connected with the enormous and increasing use of plastic are leading both consumers and national governments to shift toward bio-based solutions. However, despite the progress in biopolymers development, the general performances for the innovative materials are not yet equivalent to those of the petrochemical plastics in food-packaging applications. Of all the bioplastics, the only ones that are simultaneously bio-derived (obtained from renewable feedstock), biodegradable and compostable are polyhydroxyalkanoates PHAs, they can therefore be considered ‘bioplastics’ for both their origin and final destination. Moreover, thanks to their excellent physical, thermo-mechanical and rheological properties, PHAs are the best candidates in terms of sustainability for industrial and production processes, including food-packaging applications. According to literature data, PHA shows medium values of oxygen and water vapour transmittance while some foods sensitive to oxygen and moisture require specific packaging conditions to sustain their freshness and overall quality during storage.
BioBarr project focuses its efforts to respond to the industrial and technological challenges of developing a new fully biodegradable food packaging with optimal barrier performances.
The consortium aims to overcome the obstacles in performances that have, up to date, limited the use of biodegradable biopolymers in food packaging.