The goal of this project is to broaden and improve the implementation of a new generation of biobased compostable packaging materials by characterizing and clustering packaging properties. This approach allows companies in the food and packaging industry to collaborate to match their needs, resulting in a more sustainable packaging industry.

6 6

With food packaging it is crucial to guarantee food quality, food safety and to minimize food losses. Recently the European Union published a new plastic strategy to address problems such as the plastic soup, microplastics and litter. With this strategy the primary focus is to minimize plastic waste and to stimulate recycling without losing functionality if possible. Recycling of common plastics such as PE, PP and PET has increased attention in the plastic industry. Research on the bio-based variants are hot topic because of the combination of high functionality with high sustainability because of the limitation in net CO2-emission during the production process.

The use of compostable bio-based plastics is an alternative route in a sustainable economy. Decades of research and an environmental evolution towards more bioeconomy has led to a wide variety of bioplastics for various applications. 75% of bioplastics are used in food packaging. Compostable materials are dealing today with negative associations, such as unclear labelling, potential contamination of the recycle stream and high costs because of small volumes. European policy stimulates the improvement of the regulatory framework and recycling processes.

The functionality of compostable bio-based plastics is not always well known. Further research on these materials is needed to broaden and speed up their implementation. Blends and multilayers of this material group are coming onto the market with promising properties. The focus of this project is the characterization of seal performance, gas permeability and the mechanical properties of compostable bio-based materials to define a wider application area of these materials.

This project has 4 main goals:

  1. To give an update of recent compostable bio-based materials (applications, material properties)
  2. To determine the performance of these materials with experiments
    • Seal performance: Seal technology (conduction, ultrasonic, laser, etc…), hot tack for highly automated applications combined with leak tightness
    • Gas permeability: oxygen, carbon dioxide, water vapor and nitrogen (important for modified atmosphere packaging)
    • Mechanical properties: tensile strength, puncture resistance, tear resistance
  3. To analyse implementation activities of compostable bio-based materials on industrial packaging lines in case studies
  4. To publish a guideline for the industry with a comparison of compostable bio-based materials

The impact of this project increases by collaborating in a cross-sectoral guidance group with organizations of the following sectors:

  • Material producers/suppliers (raw materials, packaging)
  • Food packers
  • Waste sector
  • Technology companies and knowledge centers in the food industry

More information can be found on this page.

Project lead:

  • Universiteit Hasselt - imo-imomec

Project partners:

  • Pack4Food
  • KU Leuven - MeBioS


prof. dr. Roos Peeters

Roos Peeters 02

Wetenschapspark 27, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium


dr. Lieve De Doncker

dr. Lieve De Doncker
Wetenschapspark 1, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium
Business developer