With this material, a new container for dairy products can be produced from 100% biodegradable materials.
One of the first results of the European LIFE+ WHEYPACK project, led by Ainia Centro Tecnológico, is the obtaining of PHB (Polyhydroxybutyrate), a completely biodegradable biopolymer belonging to the polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) family. It is a biodegradable, compostable material from renewable sources and has properties similar to those of traditional petroleum-based polymers.
In addition, PHB is resistant to temperatures between -30ºC and 120ºC, meaning that products made with it retain their shape after exposure to these temperatures.
This material is obtained by a fermentation bioprocess through microorganisms that overproduce PHB and, from excess whey, by-products from the cheese’s own production processes. PHB is extracted and recovered and characterized, formulated and additives are added to improve its properties so that it can be processed using the same technologies as existing polymers.
The project offers a solution to excess whey from the cheese industry and reduces the carbon footprint associated with traditional packaging.
With this material, new packaging for dairy products can be produced, consisting of 100% biodegradable materials, which fulfill the protective function of the product, are economically profitable, and are also capable of reducing the environmental impact they create. And therefore they contribute to reducing the carbon footprint associated with traditional plastic packaging, which generally comes from non-renewable sources such as oil. This is the main goal of LIFE+ WHEYPACK.
The packaging that is being developed is aimed at the cheese production sector and it is in this product that its application will be validated. Although it is expected to expand its application to a larger number of foods and applications later.
These works are part of the LIFE+ WHEYPACK project, a transnational initiative between Spain and Portugal led by Ainia, in which the Spanish company Central Quesera Montesinos also participates.