Food Packaging as part of a renewable carbon circle


It is widely accepted that plastic is a necessary and useful component of food packaging. It prevents spoilage and food waste. However, its fossil-based production depletes natural resources, contributes to climate change and, with less than 10% of plastic currently recycled, is part of a global plastic waste problem. A part that is becoming increasingly significant as the amount of plastic food packaging produced is on the rise, resulting in a steady growth in plastic waste and CO2-emissions due to the use of fossil carbon. With this background, it is becoming imperative to develop more sustainable packaging materials that meet food packaging requirements and can be produced at competitive prices

How can these challenges be addressed?

There are three possible alternative sources for fossil-based polymers, namely bio-based and carbon-based polymers as well as and polymers from advanced recycling processes. For food packaging, bio-based materials, such as biopolymers like PLA, are of particular interest. The Cofresco Forum has therefore closely followed research into bio-based, and ideally biodegradable, materials that could potentially be used for food packaging over the last few decades. A prominent partner in this context has been the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB), with whom a Cofresco Forum Round Table was organised in 2017.  Entitled "Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials – How Consumers Benefit from New Materials and Research", it covered the entire spectrum of the product and food cycle, from the environmental impact of biobased raw materials to optimal storage and food waste reduction.

Overall, the event culminated in a passionate plea for the need for further research, the consideration of bio-based films in the legislative process and the development of prospects for their commercial use.


Need for further research!

Over the past few years, the call for more research has been listened to and it is an area where many researchers around the world are contributing their skills, knowledge, and time. As a result, research has been driven forward in recent years, as exemplified by ATB's involvement in the ongoing pan-European research projects European Sustainable BIObased nanoMAterials Community (BIOMAC) and Rethinking Packaging for Circular and Sustainable Food Supply Chains of the Future / Circul-a-bility.  These and other initiatives are of great importance, as general questions remain. In particular, about the properties of films made from biopolymers, because although the term biopolymer generally suggests a certain sustainability, it must be recognised that biopolymers also have their weaknesses. Especially when used as packaging material for sensitive foods, as their barrier properties are still significantly limited.


For this reason, the Cofresco Forum always focuses on current research into bio-based packaging that is environmentally friendly and avoids food waste, and international projects have been and will continue to be presented at its events.


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For scientific questions

Cofresco Frischhalteprodukte GmbH & Co. KG
Researcher Sustainability

Jana Klabunde 
Ringstr. 99 D-32427 Minden
Tel.: +49 (0) 571 / 8396 - 770

Media Relations in Germany

c/o VIERPARTNER – Agentur für Kommunikation und Marketing

Angelika Frost 
Phone: +49 (0) 211 / 417 411 - 48