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<strong>Sustainable packaging formulation and additives: yes or no?</strong>
November 24 2022

Sustainable packaging formulation and additives: yes or no?


Intentional added substances constitute the formulation of packaging.
They are aimed at giving materials their own characteristics, mechanical and physical properties.
Are they always well accepted?
Speaking about sustainable packaging it is a borderline issue.

Less additives for sustainability

Additives can prevent a material from oxidation and fast degradation. Despite how essential all those additives are, their unavoidable diffusion to any medium they are in contact with leads to growing concern. In soil, air or food, additives are potential contaminants.
What could be the panorama if, trying to prevent contamination in the name of sustainability, we reduce the use of antioxidants?

More additives for sustainability

When plastics are processed and used, they are exposed to stress which damages the polymer chains. Reprocessing damaged polymers downgrades the plastic materials. This can be a limit to plastic mechanical recycling.

For this reason, recycled polymers are generally extruded with stabilizers, such as antioxidants, to prevent oxidation during both mechanical recycling and product use. They can be thermal stabilizers, antioxidants, flame-retardants. For example, stabilizers help to better manage the colours in recycled plastics and to homogenise the material: mechanical recycling market can benefit from these additives.

The right equilibrium

Additives are essential constituents of packaging, but the approach is controversial when designing “sustainable food packaging”. In both cases –when trying to reduce the use of additives or when they are added– safety issues must be monitored and take into account, but also the organoleptic impact; thanks to some case studies we proved that in different situation this sort of issues happened.
The research for more sustainable packaging is something to support, pushed also from European Legislation and packaging risk assessment is equally important as it is in traditional materials.
In future developments it should be more and more adjusted to specific new materials, taking into consideration, for example: previous lives for recycled materials, origin of raw materials for bio-based packaging, possible uses and end of life.

We propose a deeper analysis with legislative references and case studies in a poster session at

API Advances in the Packaging Industry
“Sustainability: Products and Processes”

Napoli, Italy
November 24-25, 2002

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