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active packaging | Technology


seen, but a recent Fraunhofer study that examined the effect of oxygen scavengers on the recyclability of polypropylene (PP) films concluded with the good news that oxygen scavengers do not have a detrimental effect on PP degradation. “Residence time and temperature were the largest effects on degradation,” reports Saengerlaub. “Iron-based oxygen scavengers had no effect on degradation, which was somewhat surprising, because iron is known to increase the auto-oxidation process. However, iron is known to protect polyamide (PA). This result means that processors can run recycled PP with oxygen scavengers at standard temperatures without being concerned about catalysing degradation.” The researchers also found that some of the


Above:


Reducing waste and spoilage is becoming a top priority for the food industry


methods for supplying the antimicrobial. One solution was to use an inorganic filler dispersed in an organic, lamellar clay as a controlled-release carrier for an antimicrobial. In the initial experiment the filled system was applied as a coating, but Cornini says the possibility of using it as a masterbatch, compounded into the film, is being investigated. A second solution used a natural trace element incorporated into the film. A third solution used PVOH as a carrier for an antimicrobial, with the PVOH applied as a coating. Under high humidity, the PVOH swells and releases the antimicro- bial into the product contact surface. All three solutions were successful in reducing


microbes on contact. However, the company is seeking a solution that would be active in the headspace of the MAP packaging, rather than just at the contact surface. “Existing solutions for the headspace, like essential oils, have an odour that is acceptable for some fruits and vegetables but not for meat,” says Cornini, who plans to conduct further research in this area.


Recycling pressures The EC’s December 2015 revision to its directive on packaging and waste set goals for recycling, requiring 75% of all packaging by weight to be “prepared for use and recycled” by 2030. Flexible barrier films today are not recyclable because of their multi-material, multi-layer structures (for example, an outer layer of high-gloss PET, an aluminum barrier layer, an OPP rigid layer, and a PE food-contact seal layer). “But one day, the bar for the amount of material recycled will be set so high that it will need to include flexible packag- ing,” predicts Schultz. “More easily recyclable films might eliminate aluminum and replace this with oxygen scavengers, but brandowners don’t want to pay for the increased cost,” he says. Whether film structures will change remains to be


32 COMPOUNDING WORLD | October 2016


additive’s activity is retained through multiple extrusion passes, which might allow formulators to reduce the additive level in the virgin material if regrind contains oxygen scavengers. Fraunhofer’s research team is also investigating


oxygen scavengers in recycled PET. “Initial results indicate that there is little effect on degradation due to the oxygen scavenger,” says Saengerlaub. “In clear PET, oxygen scavengers sometimes cause ‘fisheyes’. We hope to improve processability to address this issue. We also plan to investigate how polymeric oxygen scavengers behave, and we would like to see if oxygen scavengers have any effect on the taste and quality of food.”


Multifunctional packaging AITIIP Centro Tecnologico, based in Spain, has devel- oped smart, multifunctional, bio-based, biodegradable packaging through its Dibbiopack project, which was conducted in collaboration with 18 other European university and industry partners. Berta Gonzalvo, the coordinator of the Dibbiopack project who presented the group’s research at AMI’s Smart Packaging conference, explained that PLA was chosen as a readily available material that is both bio-based and biodegradable. The project investigated using clay-based nanofibres to improve PLA properties. Researchers also used a bioORMOCER biodegradable coating material (developed at Fraunhofer ISC), which increases barrier properties and can be designed to have a humidity-triggered release of zinc oxide-based antimicrobials. The researchers developed prototypes for potential use of these technolo- gies in food, cosmetics, or pharmaceuticals [possible image if space – slide 9 from presentation].


Click on the links for more information: ❙ www.ivv.Fraunhofer.dewww.albis.comwww.coopbox.comwww.aitiip.com


www.compoundingworld.com


PHOTO: CLAUS MIKOSCH/SHUTTERSTOCK


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