News and events - Tampere University of Technology

The milk carton is about to go bio

Researchers at TUT and Bio-on have created a 100% biodegradable packaging material. In the near future, the material can be used for manufacturing a variety of foodstuff packages, such as liquid packaging cartons.

Next generation foodstuff packages will no longer contain synthetic plastic. They will be made of paper and a new bioplastic grade produced from renewable plant sources. This 100% biodegradable material will revolutionize the packaging industry and radically reduce the amount of plastic waste. The joint Minerv PHA Extrusion Coating project launched between materials scientists at TUT and the Italian-based company Bio-on in 2015 was the first in the world to create such a material.

“Creating a brand new product out of eco-sustainably produced natural materials has been an intriguing scientific challenge,” says Professor Jurkka Kuusipalo from the Department of Materials Science.

The Minerv PHA bioplastic has been tested on dozens of different products. It has been found 100% safe and particularly well suited for foodstuff packages.

“The expectations on the packaging industry have given us new goals as to the development of eco-efficient packaging materials. The bioplastic grades we have developed with Bio-on are highly versatile. These products truly represent the state of the art in this industry,” Kuusipalo commends.

Kuusipalo has studied the bonding of plastics with cardboard and paper for over 20 years. He feels very excited about this new biodegradable grade. New bioplastics can be made out of renewable plant waste and other plant-based materials that do not compete over land area with food supply.

TUT’s role has been to improve the processability of the bioplastic and the coatability of cardboard by giving feedback on the tailoring of bioplastics. Within a short time frame, the project has been able to unite the expertise of both partners and establish seamless cooperation. This has enabled rapid progress with the work. In addition to Kuusipalo, TUT’s accomplished development team has included a researcher and the pilot production line and analysis laboratory staff.

“The project resources have been increased both at Bio-on and TUT. Going forward, we expect to achieve even faster progress in this research,” Kuusipalo says.

The results of the cooperation were presented for the first time at the Innovations in Packaging 2016 seminar organised by the Department of Materials Science at TUT.

Bio-on chose to team up with Tampere University of Technology because it knew about TUT’s good reputation in business collaboration.

 "We chose to work with Tampere University of Technology because they are very oriented towards industrial production," Bio-on Chairman Marco Astorri comments in the company’s press release.

News submitted by: Tiina Leivo
Keywords: science and research, services and collaboration, biodegradable