The company Plásticos Romero, in collaboration with AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, has led the project to tackle, from a sustainable point of view, the production of manufactured packages from complex structures. It is the project RECUBIO, which lasts 18 months and has been funded by Spanish National Program for R&D Activities named CDTI (Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial).
Currently, most of the flexible packages use these complex structures due to the advantages that they provide to the packaged product regarding mechanical properties, sealability or gas barrier, as well as the packaging process. These advantages meant that in 2015 in Spain there were more than 440,000 tons of flexible plastic packages, according to the Spanish Statistical Office, the same as a turnover of about one million euros.
The problem is that this complex film is obtained by means of lamination processes with adhesives of different plastic films, so it is a mixture of materials with different origin and it is hardly recyclable. Fortunately, in the last years there was a growing interest in biodegradable materials in the packaging sector since they provide an alternative and sustainable end of life. In this line, the company Plásticos Romero, engaged in the manufacturing of plastic films by blown film extrusion, printing and lamination, has performed the development of a sustainable alternative which is technically feasible and finds a solution for the main limitation of biodegradable materials currently: the barrier property to gases such as oxygen and water vapour.
In the project RECUBIO, the coating technology has been applied on a biodegradable film to give it the required barrier properties. The final complex structure is formed by this coated film that, subsequently, has been laminated with a three-layer structure that provides rigidity and sealability to the final packaging and it will also protect the barrier coating.
The result is a complex final structure destined to food packaging which requires medium barrier properties, such as bakery, fresh or frozen products.