29 Dec Andaltec is part of a project intended to improve polyolefin recyclability in food packaging
Andaltec Technological Centre is involved in the R&D Circular4Food project, aimed at the development of food packaging using innovative plastics including at least 30% of recycled materials. This initiative, co-funded by the R&D grants scheme of the Andalusian Technological Corporation, is headed by SP Group, with the participation of the University of Jaén and Andaltec. The major innovation in this project resides in the reuse of the waste polyolefin from the manufacturing process of food packaging by SP Group company. This material had just been mainly discarded and not reused up to now.
The project’s main goal is the development of highly innovative materials and plastic structures based on polyolefins, polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), post-industrial recycled materials and multilayer PA/PE waste. They will meet the quality standards required to be employed in the manufacture of food contact packaging, and they will also include at least 30% of recycled plastic material for the flexible food packaging. Thus, researchers in the project are already working to establish a traceable and closed external recycling system, thanks to the presence of an exclusive recycling partner.
Technically, the main challenge stemming from this project lies in the achievement of high recycling percentages (around 50-60%) of extrusion structures. The raw material quality, an appropriate sorting and additive reprocessing to help achieve the homogeneity of the incompatible polymers constitute the major challenge when it comes to optical and mechanical property validation. In order to accomplish that, a project based on test verification has been proposed, from the pilot to the pre-industrial scale.
This project will improve the circularity of food packaging and will transfer scientific know-how to the new solutions in the market. Belén Soriano, Andaltec’s head for this project, explains that the Technological Centre is going to analyse the percentage of recycled material that could be added to the structure, how it disperses and combines. “The food packaging regulation is very strict, so this project intends to include the maximum quantity of recycled material without causing any degradation or contamination, so that the resulting material is completely safe and sustainable”, as she states.
Andaltec is a National Technological Centre, supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. It spans over more than 10,000 square metres of high-tech facilities, making it one of the biggest in Andalusia. It benefits from an extensive expertise in the development of innovative materials for the food industry, as well as in the appropriate inclusion of recycled and bio-based materials to food packaging.