Supported by funding under the EU Framework 7 Research and Development Framework Programme, the Traysrenew project began in 2010 with the end aim of developing commercially and economically viable renewable trays for poultry products.
Project partners have created a thermo-transformed tray and lid composed of up to 85% biopolymers and 15% hemp-based and flax-based microfibres or nanofibres, plus biodegradable additives. The packaging offers a shelf life at chill temperatures of 10 days.
Improved on conventional materials
Researchers involved said this combination of new materials enhanced the current properties of bioplastics and improved on the properties of conventional materials.
For example, they said, it had good barrier properties and was able to preserve meat products to the same standards and under the same conditions as conventional materials.
The new materials and the container they form also met food quality and safety standards demanded for poultry meat products, a sector chosen as a test ground because of its strong growth potential. Its competitive price with respect to other meats and consumer demand would result in EU production levels of 12.5 million tonnes in 2020, according to the European Commission.
Project leader and partners
The project was led by Termoformas del Levante, based in Alicante, Spain, and partners included Spanish poultry processor Productos Florida, Arctic Fiber Company and the UK Materials Technology Research Institute.
Results from the project were presented at a conference held in the Technological Institute for Packaging, Transport and Logistics. David Mas, managing director of Termoformas del Levante, highlighted "the positive data obtained for the packaging of poultry meat with this new system".
He added that "the trials undertaken with the new packaging complies with the expectations set out by the project consortium".