Materials and technologies – April 2023

01 May 2023

Number of EU patents for packaging material increased by 240 since March 2022
The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced that they received 193,460 patent applications in 2022, 2.5% more than in 2021. You can read more in the online EPO Patent Index 2022. The European patent register holds 2,872 patents with the search term ‘packaging material’ (search done by NVC on 24 March 2023). This is an increase of 240 in a years’ time. On 25 March 2022, NVC did the same search and that resulted in 2,632 patents.

Plastics and recycling
Researchers from WUR have laid the foundation for virtomers: plastics that are hard when possible and soft when needed. This type of plastic is well-recyclable since the links between the strands can be untied and retied elsewhere. Moreover, WUR is working on a new type of plastics, saloplastics, which disintegrates into harmless molecules in salt water.
ICOUP scientists have transformed waste HDPE into a new material that can be recycled repeatedly without quality loss. They claim that the recyclability of the new material is greater since the branching of the polymer chains can be controlled during repolymerisation. The study (1.6 MB) is published in the Journal of American Chemical Society.
In a study (1.56 MB) published in Recycling, the barrier performance of post-consumer polystyrene (PS) recyclates in packaging materials was tested. According to the Fraunhofer researchers, recycled PS with a barrier of virgin PS can be considered as a safe packaging material for food applications.

Innovations in packaging
A Hong Kong Polytechnic University review (5.51 MB), published in npj Science of Food, provides a snapshot in the recent development of self-healing films and coatings and insights into their optimisation. These films and coatings have an autonomous crack repairing ability and can provide increased durability and lifespan of the package.
VITO and the University of Ghent are collaborating to exploit the potential of hydrolysis lignin as a source for bio-aromatic compounds. The compounds can be used for various applications, such as packaging materials or coatings. The so-called DELICARE project has a duration until 2025 and has received 1.5 million euros from ERDF.
University of Palermo scientists explored the possibility to turn rose flowers into biobased packaging films by mixing it with PLA. They found that these materials slow PLA degradation and have a beneficial effect on PLA’s photooxidation. The study (3.06 MB) is published in Molecules.

Impact of packaging on food quality
Researchers from Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms-University Bonn tested the quality loss and shelf life of cherry tomatoes in commercially available biobased packaging trays and reference materials. The results indicate that groundwood pulp and sugarcane trays show higher preserving characteristics in comparison to corrugated board and rPET. Weight loss during storage was highest for tomatoes stored in PLA. The study (2.09 MB) is published in Packaging Technology and Science.
Colorado State University scientists analysed the impact of aluminium cans and glass bottles on beer stability. They demonstrated that beer metabolites, and thus stability, are significantly impacted by package type. The study (3.51 MB) is published in Food Science & Technology.

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