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BioBoard to increase the recyclability of packaging materials

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BioBoard to increase the recyclability of packaging materials

May 15
10:27 2013

Discarded protein-rich food by-products will be valorised to replace plastic coating for paper and board

• BioBoard promotes the recyclability and reutilization of today’s discarded food waste
• Around 50% of the 50 million tons of whey produced annually in Europe is discarded
• At least 200,000 tonnes of potato by-products are disposed in Europe each year
• EU-funded project led by IRIS with participation of 13 companies and R&D entities

On the International Recycling Day, Bioboard EU-funded project campaigns for the valorisation of currently discarded food and protein-rich waste while many tons of paperboard, coated paper and cardboard are every day manufactured worldwide, with polyethylene (PE) or petrochemical based coating material generally used leading to complex structures which may be difficult to recycle.

The Bio-Board innovation promotes the material recyclability or compostability of coated paper and cardboard and derived laminates. The BioBoard barrier coating, which will be developed by this European project, will be easily biodegradable and moreover could be easily washed off from the substrate where it is applied using enzymatic detergents.

In response to the increasing political, legislative and consumer pressure to reduce the dependency on fossil fuel based plastics, but also to produce recyclable solutions, the BioBoard project is developing a sustainable coating system based on the renewable raw material derived from agrofood waste. BioBoard aims to produce packaging materials from the extrusion of coating paper, paperboard and cardboard. The base material for the coating will be innovative formulations based on proteins such as whey and residues from potato. Indeed, as a by-product coming from cheese production, still 40-50% of the 50 million tons of whey produced annually in Europe is discarded, while about 65,000 tonnes of dried potato juice protein and 140,000 tonnes of dried potato pulp produced annually within the EU could be available for new valorisations.

BioBoard will provide a powerful solution to increase recycling rates of paperboard and cartonboard and also support packaging recycling policies. Indeed, paper laminates and aseptic packages are difficult to recycle due to the impossibility in separating the individual layers comprised in its multilayer construction (different laminated layers of paper, plastic and optionally aluminium). The recycling process involves grinding, washing, flotation, cleaning and screening to finally recover the fibres and not all paper mills are equipped for handling resulting residues comprising up to 25% of aluminium and plastic. The high shearing during the recycling leads to a reduction of the fibres size and limits their reuse to less demanding applications. Substituting much of the currently used PE by the new bio-based coating, so called BioBoard, will enable them to overcome current challenges in the recycling of such packaging. Moreover, when combined with only compostable layers such as paper (ie. in absence of aluminum), BioBoard will lead to fully compostable laminates, whereas a lot of these laminates used for pouches, sachets, service papers are currently incinerated when not easily recyclable.

The BioBoard project coordinator Dr. Elodie Bugnicourt, from Barcelona-based IRIS company, highlights that “BioBoard stands in response to the current demand from producers of coated paper, paperboard and cardboard manufacturers for a bioplastic that will enable them to substitute much of the currently used synthetic coating without compromising the barrier properties of the resulting packaging laminates and overcoming the current challenge to the recycling of such packaging”. Dr. Bugnicourt stresses: “BioBoard is based a holistic integrated environmental approach to increase the sustainability of materials and processes throughout their life cycle”.

The BioBoard project promotes the use of recyclable materials in the food sector closing the loop by applying their waste in innovative packaging solutions. Today, BioBoard wants to remind the importance of recycling end of life packaging to the wide consumer audience while supporting this need offering a new technology to their converters.
The three-year project, which is composed by 14 partners from 10 European countries, has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) managed by REA Research Executive Agency under grant agreement n°315313.

About the International Recycling Day
International Recycling Day is celebrated every year on the 17th of May.  On this day, activities to encourage recycling efforts take place worldwide.  Each year the popularity of the day has been gaining strength, so that more countries are joining in to spread high quality information about everything related to recycling different types of waste during the day.

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