Unlocking the potential of Sustainable BiodegradabLe Packaging

Bioplastics currently hold only a two percent market share in the EU; the remainder is fossil based. In addition, many bioplastics are only partially biodegradable and can’t solve end-of-life issues. They also compete with feedstocks for the food and feed sectors, pushing up costs. The amount of non-biodegradable bio-based plastics on the market is expected to grow as replacements for fossil-based counterparts continue to grow.

This makes it important to increase the level of biodegradable bioplastics, ideally using different materials. However, many bioplastics lack adequate functional properties for packaging requirements. In addition, the complexity of multilayer packaging limits the bio-degradability and compostability of the whole packaging item.

To address this, the USABLE PACKAGING project will establish a new value chain for bioplastics. This will be based on low-cost and widely-available feedstock, such as by-products and sidestreams from the food processing industry. It will convert the feedstock into poly-hydroxy-alkanoates (PHA), which can be tuned to specific packaging needs and specifications. This will realise packaging items suitable for replacing fossil-based materials in high-performance packaging while retaining biodegradable characteristics.

As well as its overall objective of developing commercially-viable alternatives to petrochemical-based packaging materials, the USABLE PACKAGING project will:

  • Develop environmentally sustainable bio-based packaging suitable for organic recycling. This can be through the existing bio-waste collection network or through bio-recycling at the PHA production facility, where it will become part of the feedstock. It is also suitable for home composting.
  • Deliver packaging materials capable of biodegradability in different environments, including marine settings.
  • Improve circularity by eco-design over existing fossil-based and bio-based plastics over the full range of applications.
  • Ensure the end-of-life phase is wholly sustainable by creating a fully-circular, vertically-integrated supply chain.
  • Create genuinely new and innovative design of packaging and production.

For more information on the USABLE PACKAGING project, got to: https://www.usable-packaging.eu/

ACTIVITIES of the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant

BBEPP will develop different methodologies for the extraction and purification of PHA from different sources and will do the eventual scale-up of the most optimal source material.


The Usable Packaging project receives funding from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 836884.