ITENE will improve the properties of compostable and recycled plastics for food packaging and bottles for drugstore products



The research centre will reduce the cost of these materials to take advantage of and recover waste that have an impact on the environment through the EXTRECH UP project, funded by IVACE

The ITENE research centre will improve the properties of compostable and recycled plastics and reduce their cost to promote their application in films for food packaging and bottles for drugstore products, respectively.

This research is developed in the EXTRECH UP project, which is funded by the IVACE (Valencian Institute for Business Competitiveness) with FEDER funds and seeks to promote technologies that support sustainable development, as well as to take advantage of and recover waste that have an impact on the environment.



The project, which was launched in June and will end in June 2023, continues the line of development of compostable and recycled materials carried out in the EXTRECH project, in which compostable polymers for food bags and recycled polyolefins for application in bottles for cleaning products and/or cosmetics were improved.

According to the project leader at ITENE, Alejandro Guillem, the EXTRECH UP project addresses different lines to "respond to the need to adapt the packaging sector to a scenario marked by sustainability requirements".


Among these requirements, the Law on Waste and Contaminated Land for a Circular Economy introduces a tax on non-reusable plastic packaging of 0.45 euros per kg of non-recycled material, as well as a tax on the deposit of waste in landfill, incineration and co-incineration, while the draft Royal Decree on Packaging and Packaging Waste sets targets for prevention, reuse, recyclability, compostability and the introduction of recycled content in packaging to avoid and reduce its impact and waste on the environment.


To promote the introduction of sustainable packaging in applications where these solutions are not currently available or where those available do not allow the same functionalities as conventional materials to be achieved, compostable and recycled materials will be optimised in EXTRECH UP, both in terms of performance and processability. To this end, reactive extrusion technology will be used, which allows polymers with better properties to be produced or modified by means of a chemical reaction in a melt inside an extruder.



On the one hand, a compostable flexible film for food packaging applications will be produced through the development of compostable biopolymer blends that offer improved compatibility and performance, as well as reduced cost through reactive extrusion technology. Subsequently, the compostability and food safety of the developed prototypes will be evaluated.


On the other hand, a small-format bottle-type hollow-body blow-moulded packaging solution will be developed. To this end, the processability and properties of recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE) will be improved by combining reactive extrusion processes and inorganic reinforcements, after which its application for drugstore products will be validated.


These works are part of the line of work developed in ITENE to improve the properties of packaging materials and to develop sustainable material alternatives with advanced properties to meet the requirements of the packaged product.


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