According to Plastics Europe, the European plastic industry is worth more than € 350 billion and it is the 7th industrial sector in Europe in value added contribution. In 2019, almost 58 million tonnes of plastic were produced in Europe. The plastic packaging segment is the biggest plastic consumer absorbing 39,6% of the plastic produced. However, in spite of the great demand, plastic waste still represents an important environmental problem in Europe. Average recycling rates of packaging waste in Europe, in fact, do not exceed 40%, while the rest is landfilled. The European Commission, acknowledging the issue, set two recycling targets for plastic packaging for the years to come: 50% by 2025 and 55% by 2030.
Sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based plastics, on the other hand, have the flaw of being, on average, more expensive than traditional plastic, and less performing or versatile.
BioSupPack’s purpose is to upscale new, economically convenient and highly-performing bio-based rigid packaging solutions based on PHA, also suitable for being recycled and recovered.
BioSupPack, within a 42 months window, will contribute to the creation of a new bio-cluster/value chain connecting several sectors (i.e. agri-food, bio-plastics, pulp & paper, and packaging). The project will explore, first at lab-scale and pilot level and then at large scale, the possibility to use brewery industry by-products (beer-spent grains) as a fermentation feedstock for PHB production because of their large availability in Europe that remains constant throughout the year. Their high moisture and low fermentable sugar content properties make beer spent grains a suitable solution to produce PHB polymers.
Within the project, the barrier, hydrophobic and squeezable properties of PHA-based packaging will be improved. Meanwhile assessing the feasibility of the new products’ recycling and re-use. The consortium will consider the organization of the whole value chain, managing both brewery waste logistic aspects and new packaging waste identification and sorting.
BioSupPack focuses on final consumers’ satisfaction and perception to deliver marketable products after the end of the project in the food, beverage, homecare and cosmetic products’ packaging segments. In fact, the partners will collaborate to demonstrate at least two new bio-based materials and to create two new consumer products of commercial value after the end of the project that are also safe and in compliance with European regulatory standards in place.