Research Article: Processing and Validation of Whey-Protein-Coated Films

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Advances in Materials Science and Engineering. Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 496207, 10 pages

Processing and Validation of Whey-Protein-Coated Films and Laminates at Semi-Industrial Scale as Novel Recyclable Food Packaging Materials with Excellent Barrier Properties

E. Bugnicourt,1 M. Schmid,2,3 O. Mc. Nerney,1 J. Wildner,4 L. Smykala,4 A. Lazzeri,5 and P. Cinelli5

1Innovació i Recerca Industrial i Sostenible (IRIS), Parc Mediterrani de la Tecnologia, Avenida Carl Friedrich Gauss No. 11, 08860 Castelldefels, Spain
2Material Development Department, Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, Giggenhauser Straße 35, 85354 Freising, Germany
3Chair of food packaging technology, Technische Universität München, Weihenstephaner Steig 22, 85354 Freising, Germany
4Food Technology and Bioprocess Engineering, ttz Bremerhaven, Fischkai 1, 27572 Bremerhaven, Germany
5Department of Chemical Engineering, Industrial Chemistry and Materials Science, University of Pisa, Via Diotisalvi No. 2, 56126 Pisa, Italy

Received 25 August 2012; Accepted 5 January 2013

Academic Editor: Wen-Hua Sun

Copyright © 2013 E. Bugnicourt et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A biopolymer coating for plastic films was formulated based on whey protein, and its potential to replace current synthetic oxygen barrier layers used in food packaging such as ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymers (EVOH) was tested. The whey-coating application was performed at semi-industrial scale. High barrier to oxygen with transmission rate down to ranges of 1 cm3 (STP) m−2 d−1 bar−1 at 23ºC and 50% relative humidity (r.h.) but interesting humidity barrier down to ranges of 3 g m−2 d−1 (both normalized to 100 μm thickness) were reached, outperforming most existing biopolymers. Coated films were validated for storing various food products showing that the shelf life and sensory attributes were maintained similar to reference packaging films while complying with food safety regulations. The developed whey coating could be enzymatically removed within 2 hours and is therefore compatible with plastic recycling operations to allow multilayer films to become recyclable by separating the other combined layers. A life cycle assessment was performed showing a significant reduction in the environmental impact of the packaging thanks in particular to the possibility of recycling materials as opposed to incinerating those containing EVOH or polyamide (PA), but due to the use of biosourced raw materials.

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