There is an increasing interest in paper-based packaging materials for (food) packaging because of the established paper recycling infrastructure and the negative public opinion about the environmental effects of plastic . Still, paper by itself cannot compete with plastics concerning (barrier) properties and the protection of packed foods.
Motivation and Challenges
At present, commonly used barrier materials in paper laminates are PE (waterproofing) and aluminium (gas- and UV-barrier). However, their main drawback is that they negatively influence the paper recyclability. Moreover, whereas paper will degrade in nature, the polymer (e.g PE) coating will persist resulting in micro-plastics.
In this project, alternative biodegradable or water-soluble barrier materials will be combined with paper surface modifications and thin coatings in order to obtain a material that can provide excellent vapor and gas barrier properties. Furthermore, the provided solution would fit within the current paper recycling systems and be suitable for food contact applications. This development will help the participating companies to fulfill their circularity goals and help to prevent plastic pollution.