Spanish polymer research centre Aimplas has reported on the progress of an ongoing European project aimed at the development of sustainable solutions for the automotive and food packaging industries, which it is coordinating. Known as the DAFIA Project, a consortium of 15 partners have worked for the last four years to develop new products, that, in line with the circular economy criteria, are based on marine and municipal waste.
The results have included flame retardants that provide an alternative to halogenated models, sustainable barrier packaging and edible coatings that extend the shelf life of food, and chemical substances that can be used to produce new plastics from renewable resources.
Fishing industry waste was used to extract and formulate flame-retardant additives at pilot plant scale. These additives can be used in the automotive industry to increase the flame retardancy of polyamides with components that provide an alternative to halogenated flame retardants, whose use is restricted due to health hazards. In this case, there are two advantages: these additives have the same properties as conventional ones, and they are renewably-sourced. Fishing industry waste was also used to develop alternatives to oxygen barriers based on ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH, of fossil origin). The researcher came up with a fish-gelatin-based formula that can be incorporated into food packaging film or used to coat the food itself with an edible coating that extends its shelf life.
In addition, the project has explored the use of innovative fermentation processes that have made it possible to extract building blocks from sugars – the carbon source – in municipal waste, to synthesise biopolymers such as bio-based polyamides. These materials come from renewable sources and also have applications in the automotive industry.
This project was funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement number 720770.
The members of the consortium are: Politecnico Di Torino, Sintef Ocean, Sintef Industry, Danmarks Tekniske Universitet, Ircelyon, Nutrimar, Inovação I Recerca Industrial I Sostenible, Biotrend - Inovação E Engenharia Em Biotecnologia, Daren Laboratories & Scientific Consultants, Mine Plastik, Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, Biopolis, Arkema Ircelyon and the National Non-Food Crops Centre.