top of page

Advancing towards sustainable fiber-based food packaging

26 feb 2024

LEPAMAP-PRODIS (UdG) and NOEL are developing sustainable fiber-based food packaging solutions with 75 % less plastic or even plastic-free through the implementation of advanced coatings

LEPAMAP-PRODIS (UdG) and NOEL are collaborating, through an industrial doctorate, to develop new, more sustainable food packaging systems. The objective is significantly reducing or even eliminating plastic laminates from food packaging systems currently being commercialized by NOEL. Genís Bayés is conducting his industrial doctorate between the Laboratory of Sustainable Materials and Product Design (LEPAMAP-PRODIS) and the R&D Department of NOEL.

"We have been working for some time to reduce both the plastic we use internally and externally," explains Jaume Planella, R&D director of Noel. "We have already had several experiences, but everything seems very sustainable in theory. However, when it comes to the market, consumers may not understand why they have to pay more or why the packaging has certain limitations, such as the product not looking as good or the packaging not holding up as well as plastic," he explains.

From left to the right: Jaume Planella (NOEL), Genís Bayés (NOEL/UdG); Marc Delgado-Aguilar (UdG)

Source: Aniol Resclosa; Diari de Girona

In these more than two years of work, Bayés, together with the teams from Noel and UdG, have managed to develop a paper tray with a plastic film to market some of the products from the Garrotxa-based company. This packaging, counting on 75 % less plastic, is now starting a testing process, being sold in some supermarkets, where Noel will assess its acceptance by the end customer and, therefore, whether this use can be extended. "Competing with plastics is very challenging because they are usually based on multi-layer systems, combining different plastics to achieve very high barrier properties," explains Genís Bayés.

In addition to this packaging, Bayés has also been working at the university on another "more ambitious" container in which they completely eliminate plastic, thinking that even though it may not be operable right now, it may be useful for the future. "We can state that we have obtained papers that are capable of offering barrier properties to gases and liquids in the same way that some plastic-based laminates do," says Marc Delgado-Aguilar, a professor at the University of Girona and director of LEPAMAP-PRODIS. However, Delgado-Aguilar admits that "the paper tray with the plastic film is a more immediate solution. We are a step back for the full industrial deployment of the plastic-free packaging”.

Both from NOEL and LEPAMAP-PRODIS, they highlight the importance of doctorates and projects like that of Genís Bayés to eliminate the barriers in connecting companies with universities. "It serves as a knowledge transfer tool between the two institutions, with a great importance of the human part because if he weren't there, it wouldn't exist: Genís is the link," assures Planella.

Genís Bayés is still in the final stretch of his doctorate, six months to continue working on these sustainable packaging. Once finished, he will have to decide his future: "It will be Genís who decides, many scenarios can still unfold," concludes Jaume Planella.

Links to press releases:

-            Diari de Girona (18th February 2024).

-            Doctorats Industrials (19th February 2024).

-            Universitat de Girona (21st February 2024).

bottom of page