|Fraunhofer IVV coordinates food-grade film recyclability project|
Germany’s Fraunhofer IVV institute is coordinating the Horizon 2020 CIRCULAR FoodPack project, taking aim at flexible plastics packaging for the hygiene-sensitive food sector, design for recycling, tracer-based sorting of food from non-food materials and other improvements to the sorting and recycling process.
The project, which launched in June this year, will run until November 2024, with some €5.4 million of EU funding from the Horizon 2020 Programme. There are 14 companies and institutes from six EU countries taking part.
The project aims to tackle the twofold problem of food-contact and non-food-contact packaging being indistinguishable – and unsortable for recycling – and the prevalence of multilayer polymer packaging. These are critical issues that need to be addressed if the EU is to meet its European Green Deal Zero-Carbon target by 2050, says Fraunhofer.
Fluorescent tracers applied to packaging can be used to identify different polymers or end-use markets (such as food/non-food), when exposed to laser light. This technique will be applied to polyethylene (PE)-based food packaging.
Another line of research will involve the purifying of recyclates in mechanical and physical solvent-based recycling process cascades to reduce contaminants, inks and other colouring, and smell. Cleaned and deodorized PE will then be put through the patented CreaSolv process for separation into components, such as fillers, additives and polymer.
“These new approaches to sorting, deodorization and deinking, in combination with novel recycling process cascades, will boost the current quality level of recycled polymers to the high-purity grade that is necessary for highly demanding and sensitive packaging applications,” says project coordinator Esra Kücükpinar-Niarchos of Fraunhofer IVV.
Flexible packaging will be developed for dry foods, home care and personal care products, all of which will be shown to generate recyclates which are suitable for the most sensitive food-contact applications.
Other partners in the consortium include Amcor, Ghent University and Nestlé.