Itene will develop recyclable cellulosic materials with barrier and sealability properties

19th September 2023


The technology center Itene works on the development of recyclable cellulosic materials based on paper with barrier and sealability properties for the packaging intended to eating and messaging E-commerce.

These advances will be achieved in the project INNCELPACK, financed by the Valencian Institute of Business Competitiveness (IVACE) with Feder funds and launched last June and will end in June 2024.

The entry into force of Royal Decree on Packaging and Packaging Waste, which has established new objectives of recycling for paper and paperboard (75% in 2025 and 80% in 2030), requires having new materials that allow the sustainability objectives of the product value chain to be met. container and packaging while ensuring product protection packing.

In this sense, “materials of cellulosic origin offer multiple advantages for the production of containers flexible given their availability, biodegradability, renewability and recyclability, as well as its competitive costs, its safety for the consumer and its good printability and surface functionalization,” explained Rafael Sánchez, project manager at ITENE.

“However, the barrier properties of paper They are defined by the highly porous structure that it presents. Therefore, the improvement of these properties is essential to promote the use of this material in applications of the packaging given its importance in protecting products to be packaged, such as foods sensitive to oxygen or electronic components that cannot be in contact with humidity,” the researcher highlighted.

Improvement of properties of cellulosic materials

Through INNCELPACK, we seek to obtain alternative structures to conventional ones to flexible packaging that allow the precise barrier requirements to be achieved through the improvement of the properties of cellulosic substrates (papers).

To improve the barrier and sealability properties of cellulosic substrates, two courses of action will be carried out within the INNCELPACK project.

Firstly, the improvements in the barrier and sealing properties of the packaging solutions will be carried out through the use of wet coatings which will be applied by different technologies on different selected and improved cellulosic substrates. In this course of action, ITENE will carry out an evaluation of different commercial coatings and based on them they will carry out optimization processes of the formulations and application techniques with the aim of achieving the requirements set within the project.  

On the other hand, the second course of action will be the improvement of the surface and barrier properties of the papers through the use of plasma polymerization processes, which is a procedure for applying surface coatings by dry means. Plasmo polymerization allows the deposition of different polymers on the surface of cellulosic substrates in the form of very thin coatings, but with excellent properties in terms of barrier resistance to liquid fouling agents and gaseous compounds. Furthermore, since these are very thin coatings, the recyclability of the cellulosic material will not be affected.

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