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The project

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Expected results


New sustainable, functionalized and competitive PHB material based in fruit by-products getting advanced solutions for packaging and non-packaging applications


Over 67 million tonnes of packaging waste is generated annually in EU which belongs to around one-third of all municipal solid waste. In developed countries, food packaging represents 60% of all packaging. Food packaging has become the most obvious source of waste generated by the public.

On one hand, the application of biodegradable food packaging material will reduce energy use and carbon dioxide emissions, as well as it will reduce waste treatment costs. On the other hand, food industry wastewater treatment is costly due to energy needs in the aeration basin and the costs of waste sludge disposal. Thus, recovering valuable materials from raw wastewaters will lead to a reduction in treatment and disposal costs.

Joining the two previous concepts, the aim of PHBOTTLE project is to develop a biodegradable material (PHB, polyhydroxybutyrate) by fermentation of food industry by-products (juice processing wastewater).

PHBOTTLE PROCESS

The main target will be for applications in food packaging sector, mainly juice industry, one of the widest markets in Europe. From PHB, a new package is going to be developed: bottle, cap and sleeve. However, its use in other applications (non-food packaging and non-packaging uses) will be tested. The research will be focused oh PHB bioproduction alternatives using juice industry by-products as a culture medium, optimising energy and eco-efficiency. Also, it will be focused on the improvement of the packaging material properties through the use of functional materials (cellulose microfibers and encapsulated ingredients).

The focus will be placed on PHB because of their special properties and market potential. PHB has useful properties (moisture resistance, lower water vapour permeability, water insolubility, optical purity and good oxygen barrier), similar to the petrol based plastic polypropylene (PP). But PHB has different limitations such as stiffness, relative brittleness and difficulty to process by injection moulding. These limitations should be overcome in PHBOTTLE project.

The selection of wastewater coming from juice processing industries is due to the fact that contains high amounts of organic pollution: free carbohydrates, mainly fermentable sugars such as glucose, fructose or maltose. The concentration of fermentable sugars in juice processing wastewater can reach 70% of the total organic load. Therefore, juice processing wastewater will be a good candidate as a cheap feedstock for PHB bioproduction.

Also, since water management in the juice industry is very important due to environmental impact, PHBOTTLE project will contribute to reduce this environmental impact taking advantage of the wastewater capacity as culture medium for PHB bioproduction.

PHBOTTLE material will be obtained in a sustainable way from juice industry by-products. Particular attention will be paid to the stability of the packaged food during storage. Food safety and quality will be primary in the development of the new packaging material and processes. The environmental goal is to reduce packaging waste by making the material biodegradable. The industrial applicability will be demonstrated and the positive impact on the environment will be addressed via Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

 

q bake project

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement nº 280831.