Project proposal on research in functional & recyclable coated paper packaging for dry food products

Packaging is one of the most important actors in the food supply chain. The industry sees itself confronted with several challenges, the use of (coated) paper and cardboard packages being one of them. The aim of the CORNET-TETRA project 'REPAC²', proposed by Sirris and several Flemish and European partners, is to support an accelerated implementation of highly functional and recyclable coated paper and cardboard materials for dry food packaging applications. Join us!

Food packaging protects and preserves the quality and safety of food products and extends the shelf-life. Every day, the food packaging industry is faced with the choice of the most appropriate packaging material for the storage of specific food products. In addition, the food and packaging industry is challenged to prove the recyclability of their packaging materials. Both on European and Belgian level, ambitious targets are set. The European legislation dictates that 65% of all packaging waste needs to be recycled by 2025 and 70% by 2030 (EU Directive2018/852). On Belgian level, the Belgian Food Industry (FEVIA) states that all food packaging should be recyclable, reusable or biodegradable by 2025. The roadmap 'Food packaging of the future' also states that the recyclability of packaging is an important feature for realising the transition to circular packaging.

As a result, the use of paper and cardboard materials for food packaging receives much interest. To be applicable as food packaging, however, paper and cardboard materials are finished with one or more coatings offering good seal and barrier properties to gases and/or moisture. Currently, many novel coated paper and cardboard materials for food packaging applications are brought onto the market. However, it is not always clear whether these materials meet the desired properties and if they are fit for purpose. Furthermore, the recyclability of these coated materials is unknown. At present, no universal method to determine the recyclability of coated paper and cardboard packaging materials is available. Though, it is generally assumed that a coating should not exceed 5% of the packaging to ensure recyclability.

Objective of REPAC²

The objective of the REPAC² project, proposed by Sirris, UHasselt, KU Leuven, Fraunhofer IVV, Pack4Food and Flanders' FOOD, is to support an accelerated implementation of highly functional and recyclable coated paper and cardboard materials for dry food packaging applications. By a market research, commercial coated paper and cardboard packaging materials will be recorded throughout the project. A method to determine the recyclability of coated paper and cardboard materials will be developed. Subsequently, the recyclability and functionality (i.e. water vapour barrier, sealability, and formability) of commercial packaging materials will be assessed. In addition, a matchmaking event between food companies and the coated paper and cardboard packaging industry will be organised. Based on this event and the packaging characteristics of the coated packaging materials, generic case studies will be defined for further research. For these generic case studies, initially a shelf-life simulation tool will be used after which common shelf-life studies will be performed. Finally, in-company validation studies will be established. The preliminary research approach is still open to alterations by the industrial advisory board. This project fits the vision of the roadmap 'Food packaging of the future', covering one of the three key topics: 'circular packaging'.

Target group

The target group of REPAC² includes the food industry, the coated paper and cardboard packaging producers and converters as well as recycling companies. To increase the industrial relevance of this project, strong interaction with the target group is required. Therefore, we are actively looking for enterprises in this value chain to support and fine-tune this project proposal.

Interested to meet the challenges of implementing highly functional and recyclable coated paper and cardboard materials for dry food packaging applications? Contact us or fill in the form!