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07-10-13

SUCCIPACK: First World Production of PBS 100 % Bio-sourced

In the coming years, polybutylene succinate (PBS) is expected to become an important source of biological origin material for the food packaging industry. PBS is made with monomers obtained by bacterial fermentation: succinic acid and butane-1,4-diol, which can be synthesized from succinic acid. The annual production capacity of bio-succinic acid is expected to reach 200,000 tons in 2015.

In this context, the SUCCIPACK project, a European consortium, aims to develop sustainable food packaging materials, active and intelligent, based on PBS bio-sourced, that are sufficiently flexible and adaptable to be used by the packaging industry and food industry. A first aspect lies in the optimization of the synthesis and compounding of polymers and copolymers to plastic industrial processes for the manufacture of films, trays and bags. The functionalities of the custom packaging will be achieved through surface treatments flexible online, in order to control the gas barrier properties, while introducing an antimicrobial activity. Special efforts will be established to explore ways of recycling PBS. An original and intelligent labelling function will also be added to control the degradation of materials and their re-condensation during storage and recycling. The analysis of life cycle and the life cycle cost analysis will be applied to guide the development of materials and to assess the sustainability of the concept of this new type of packaging in its entirety.

The new packaging materials must guarantee food safety and food quality: they must contribute to the microbiological quality of food, maintaining their organoleptic and nutritional properties, and prevent migration of packaging materials to the food product.

SUCCIPACK will meet these requirements in several ways:
- By developing materials with permeation properties and controlled barrier;
- By assessing the behaviour of aromas compounds in contact with the material, packaging ....;
- By studying the migration behaviour of PBS with the adaptation of predictive tools for modelling the transfer of PBS;
- And by monitoring during the storage the microbiological indicators and quality of different foods packaged in materials derived from PBS.

The first tests have allowed the packaging of fresh cheese ricotta and beef. Future trials of implementation in extrusion and injection moulding are intended for the manufacture of films and trays for  packaging of fish, chicken and vegetarian dishes. The consortium also explores new ways of polymerization in order to improve properties of transformation  and using of PBS. The polytechnic university of Athens and the BIODYMIA laboratory of the university of Lyon work on the development of a suitable process adapted of Solid State Polymerization (SSP). Future developments are also planned by TopChim and VITO in Belgium for treatment and surface functionalization of films. These work are coordinated by ACTIA with the support of the company Euroquality and technical centers CTCPA and LNE. Several French SMEs are involved: Natureplast for the formulation, Leygatech for the manufacture of film and Velfor for the manufacture of trays. The project is funded by the European Union in the framework of FP7, the European program to support research.

For more information please visit the website SUCCIPACK: www.succipack.eu

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