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Le Projet Ecopack (en)

[ ]EcoPack® certification guarantees the use of wasted packaging products as compostable material

November 2011

The project aims to define a testing scheme based on innovative bioassays and chemical analyses to assess the safety of compostable packaging or agricultural plastics.

Application sectors :

Packaging safety, Packaging composting

Project details :

The testing scheme will contribute as a base of a European certification process, which proves the safety for human health, the environment, and also the quality of those materials. Biodegradable and compostable packaging is the future for a lot of experts, even though nowadays, at the end of their life cycle, these ones are mainly treated in landfills and incinerators. Despite the application of the EU standard EN 13432 for biodegradable packaging recoverable through composting, this industry is still reluctant to consider food-spoiled biodegradable packaging as raw material, deploring a lack of safety and quality. Indeed, packaging has become a tool for communication about brands and the tendency is to use larger quantities of pigments, coatings and inks. More recently active packaging has been developed to extend the food shelf-life with chemical agents : organic acids, antimicrobials, fungicides, ethanol or silver ions. Even though the main raw constituent is biodegradable, the impact on the environment of these additional constituents is questionable. In this context emerges the EcoPack® project, which will develop a new assessment procedure to fully assess the potentiality of Food Contact Material (FCM) for valorization as compost. This innovative approach to the design and labeling of biodegradable and compostable products will go beyond the existing scheme, namely the EN 13432 standard, by integrating new dimensions related to the direct impact on biodiversity and human health. This project is aimed at a second market, which are polymers for agriculture that are used as fertilizers (water retention) or mulching films. An important part of these films remains in the soils because they are partially degraded/fragmented and not easily collected. For these materials the EU standard EN 13432 for biodegradable label also applies, despite the necessity of assuring and investigating the soil contamination risks, answering to several European authorities requirements. So, this project will also complete the biodegradability standards for plastics used in agricultural soils. The main project result could be the EcoPack® certification which will prove the safety and quality of these materials to be recovered as compost, without environmental and human health toxicity risk. Finally, the new EcoPack® certification will become a major tool for food brand to communicate on a green image and therefore an additional purchasing influencer for organic-minded consumers.

Partners and funding

Bio-Tox Center (France), CELABOR (Belgium), Institut Pasteur de Lille (France), PENA Environment (France), Organic Products Cluster (Greece) and ITENE (Spain) are involved in the project. Other industrial partners take part of the project.

It is financed by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI) of the European Commission, through the Eco-Innovation project.

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