Revolutionary 100% bio-based and bio-degradable milk brick

The truly revolutionary 100%bio-based and bio-degradable milk brick: a reality stemming from a partnership between the Tampere University of Technology (Finland) and Bio-On (Italy).

Just red on the website of “Packaging Europe” this very good news of a revolutionary milk brick made of two bio-based bio-degradable elements: the outside cardboard and a PHA liner. I copy and paste the article here below followed by some comments of mine:

QUOTE: To achieve this extraordinary outcome, researchers at the two laboratories replaced the polyethylene contained in current packaging, maintaining all of its impermeability, and ,for the first time in history, created a material that is totally naturally biodegradable and of renewable origin that can be easily and safely recycled.

The Minerv PHA Extrusion Coating project, launched by Bio-On (Italy) at the end of 2015, aims to develop specific, eco-sustainable and fully biodegradable formulations in order to make laminates with paper without using films, but instead fusing the biopolymer directly onto the paper using an extrusion process, without losing out on the end product’s functionality and aesthetic.

Based on Bio-On‘s revolutionary biopolymer, 100% naturally biodegradable and already tested in dozens of applications, from automotive to design to biomedical, Minerv PHA EC (Extrusion Coating) is safe and particularly suited for use with food.

“We are extremely pleased to present this important product created out of the collaboration with Prof. Jurkka Kuusipalo from the Tampere University of Technology Finland, which has made the highest number of technological developments in the history of food packaging in the food & beverage sector,” explains Bio-on S.p.A. Chairman Marco Astorri.

“Together we demonstrate that it is possible to develop new functionalities in the use of PHAs biopolymers in dozens of items”. “It is a great scientific challenge,” says Prof. Kuusipalo of Tampere University of Technology Finland, “to be able to create new products with an eco-sustainable and completely natural material. I have been analysing and testing all the plastics bonded to paper and cardboard for over 20 years. The high interest that the packaging sector is enjoying gives us new goals for a totally eco-sustainable tomorrow. The PHAs made by Bio-On is very versatile and enables us to achieve performances never seen before. Being able to do this with completely natural products will put us at the cutting-edge of research and development in the coming decades.

Bio-On bioplastics are made from renewable plant sources, some of which is waste, with no competition with food supply chains, and are 100% naturally biodegradable. “We chose to work with Tampere University of Technology Finland because they are very oriented towards industrial production,” explains Astorri.

The Minerv PHA EC (extrusion coating) industrial research and development project produces polylaminate via extrusion of the molten PHA polymer directly onto the paper or cardboard substrate, with subsequent cooling and consolidation of the plastic film by passing through cooled rollers (an overall process entitled Extrusion coating). UNQUOTE

This sounds like true innovation when compared with last year announcement by Tetrapak of its “World’s first fully renewable package for chilled liquid food” branded Tetra Rex™. The cane sugar bio-ethanol based PE liner imported from Braskem Brazil supports the claim of a fully bio-sourced package. However, this bio-sourced PE is no different from petro-chemical PE in terms of bio-degradability. Therefore, the Tetra Rex™ brick remains a headache for waste collection as it is a dual component: a compostable and recyclable carton lined with a non-compostable though recyclable PE film.

Hopefully, TetraRex is just a step towards a fully bio-based AND bio-degradable Tetrapak milk and juice brick. And the Minerv PHA EC project outcome will soon be turned into a massive deployment with its adoption by liquid packaging majors such as Tetrapak.

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