"The support that we are obtaining through LIFE+ is extremely valuable to us since it makes it possible to scale-up the technology. In turn, this also means that we are one step closer to a commercial product and that our customers can benefit from the advantages of our renewable barrier material," says Managing Director of Xylophane, Håkan Grubb. "We are already seeing major interest from our customers within the packaging industry and from foodstuff producers in both Europe and North America where we have several ongoing cooperative projects. Naturally, we are open to additional contacts with players and companies that want to participate in the industrial phase and continued development of the company," adds Håkan.
Today's barrier material a threat to the environment
The barrier materials that are used in food packaging today, primarily aluminium foil and synthetic plastics, have a major negative impact on the environment. Aluminium foil in multi-layer packaging is difficult to recycle and requires a lot of energy to produce, and oil-based plastics create carbon-dioxide emissions and increase the greenhouse effect.
There are environmentally-friendly alternatives
Xylophane's renewable barrier material is an environmentally-friendly alternative to aluminium foil and oil-based plastics. The material is made from the natural polymer, xylan, which is created from waste products from agriculture such as grain husks. By adding a thin layer of the material to paper or cardboard it is possible to obtain very good barrier properties against oxygen, fat, mineral oils and other volatile organic contaminantes. The material is renewable, biologically degradable and can be easily managed in the recycling system after its life cycle. Examples of suitable usage areas are for the packaging of dry soups and sauces, fat products such as pet food, or cereals and pasta that are packaged in cardboard packaging made from recycled fibres.
Many foods need to be protected with the help of functional packaging materials where barrier materials are used to stop oxygen from penetrating the packaging and destroying the product. In addition, they can stop fat in the product from causing grease stains on the outside of the packaging and by hindering substances that are hazardous to health in the recycled fibre cartons from contaminating the foods during storage.
What is LIFE+?
LIFE+ is the EU's financial instrument for investing in the environment. The purpose of LIFE+ is to contribute to developing, implementing, monitoring and providing information about the EU's environmental policies by co-financing pilot and demonstration projects that can provide added value to Europe.