Bio-on, an Italian industrial biotech company, yesterday announced a major result achieved thanks to its new collaboration with Tampere University of Technology Finland, one of the most important centers in the world for research and innovation in the use of paper and plastic for food packaging. “A joint project launched in 2015 has produced for the very first time tetrapak type containers made of a combination of paper and bioplastic, namely the special grade EC (Extrusion Coating) of the Minerv PHA biopolymer”.
To achieve this outcome, researchers at the two laboratories replaced the polyethylene contained in current packaging, maintaining all of its impermeability, and “for the first time in history – Bio-on writes in a note – created a material that is totally naturally biodegradable and of renewable origin that can be easily and safely recycled”.
The Minerv PHA Extrusion Coating project, launched by Bio-on at the end of 2015, aims to develop specific, eco-sustainable and, for the first time, fully biodegradable formulations, in order to make laminates with paper without using films, but instead fusing the biopolymer directly onto the paper using an extrusion process, without losing out on the end product’s functionality and aesthetic.
Based on Bio-on’s biopolymer, 100% naturally biodegradable and already tested in dozens of applications, from automotive to design to biomedical, “Minerv PHA EC (Extrusion Coating) is safe and particularly suited for use with food”.
“We are extremely pleased to present this important product created out of the collaboration with Jurkka Kuusipalo from the Tampere University of Technology Finland, which has made the highest number of technological developments in the history of food packaging in the food & beverage sector,” explains Bio-on chairman Marco Astorri. “Together we demonstrate that it is possible to develop new functionalities in the use of PHAs biopolymers in dozens of items”
“It is a great scientific challenge,” says Kuusipalo of Tampere University of Technology Finland, “to be able to create new products with an eco-sustainable and completely natural material. I have been analysing and testing all the plastics bonded to paper and cardboard for over 20 years. The high interest that the packaging sector is enjoying gives us new goals for a totally eco-sustainable “tomorrow”. The PHAs made by Bio-on is very versatile and enables us to achieve performances never seen before. Being able to do this with completely natural products will put us at the cutting-edge of research and development in the coming decades”.
Bio-on bioplastics are made from renewable plant sources, some of which is waste, with no competition with food supply chains, and are 100% naturally biodegradable. “We chose to work with Tampere University of Technology Finland because they are very oriented towards industrial production,” explains Astorri.
The Minerv PHA EC (extrusion coating) industrial research and development project produces polylaminate via extrusion of the molten PHA polymer directly onto the paper or cardboard substrate, with subsequent cooling and consolidation of the plastic film by passing through cooled rollers (an overall process entitled Extrusion Coating).