With more than 52,000 companies spread across the continent, and almost 1.5 million workers, the plastics sector is one of the most important in Europe. However, due to most of the plastic being made from fossil fuels, it is one of the main contributors to greenhouse emissions and resource depletion. On a global trend, plastic production from fossil-based resources and plastic waste incineration generates about 400 million tonnes of CO2 every year. Furthermore, a significant part of this plastic end up in the environment, causing many problems for plants, animals, and humans.
To replace fossil-based plastics with bio-based/biodegradable alternatives can reduce both: their carbon footprint and their environmental impact. For this reason, global bioplastics production capacity is set to increase significantly from around 2.41 million tonnes in 2021 to approximately 7.59 million tonnes in 2026.
This growing global demand for bio-based and biodegradable polymers has encouraged investments in the sector. In this context, the “Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking” (CBE JU) will grant innovative projects. Its final goal is to unleash the potential of the circular bioeconomy in Europe in the coming years.
One of the specific objectives of the CBE-JU’s program is to replace at least 30% of fossil-based raw materials with bio-based and biodegradable ones by 2030.
This will be achieved by promoting circular and bio-based industries. Therefore, it is important to promote research on bio-based materials and plastic recycling. INGREEN and MANDALA projects contribute to these ambitions.
The MANDALA project presents a sustainable solution for multilayer packaging focused on 3 pillars: eco-design, thermo-reversible adhesives, and end-of-life assessment. MANDALA project aims to deliver a sustainable multi-material packaging format that will satisfy food and pharma requirements thanks to its barrier properties.
On the other hand, the INGREEN project will promote bio-based products by developing new materials from whey, wheat, and rye brans, and paper milling wastewater. Among their objectives, INGREEN will develop innovative bio-based prototypes that will be packaged in biodegradable solutions according to food, feed, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic needs.