Bio barrier films make composite packaging recyclable
Bio barrier films (BioBaFol) are set to be used in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic packaging in the future as a recyclable alternative to composite multilayer films. Photo: Photo by Clem Onojeghuo from Pexels
Bio barrier films: A recyclable alternative for composite packaging
Non-recyclable classic multilayer films used in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic packaging will be able to be replaced with bio barrier films made of PLA bioplastic in the future, which boosts the recycling process.
PLA films with a hybrid polymer layer
The bio barrier films project (BioBaFol) will run up to 2021 in Germany. This project is running within the context of the renewable resources development scheme from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The project seeks to test usage of bioplastics in barriers. To achieve this, the project partners including SKZ, Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC, Tecnaro, JenCAPS Technology and Südpack Verpackungen have developed PLA-based films for food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics packaging which provide excellent barriers and also benefit the recycling process. This is achieved via an inorganic-bioorganic functional layer placed on the new PLA-based films.
Repeating film extrusion in the recycling process enables a hybrid polymer layer to be applied to the PLA substrate. This layer serves as a nucleating agent during crystallisation and also as a supplementary barrier filling material. Unlike classic multilayer films, the barrier layer does not have to be separated from the PLA substrate and can instead be recycled together with the packaging, thus eliciting a closed material cycle in the future.
Bioplastics are still being used sporadically in the packaging industry. Often, this is due to their limited function and their price. However, previous niche products show that they can outperform normal plastics, as shown by the new bio barrier films. Representatives from the bioplastics industry such as the European Bioplastics Association and the Nova Institute are predicting further growth in this industry, rising to 2.44 million tons by 2022.
The project participants believe that this ongoing trend for bio-based and biodegradable plastics has been brought about by the increasingly stringent environmental requirements for industry, the global issue of waste and increasing environmental awareness within the customer base.