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Sherpack : a project to reinvent flexible paper‐based packaging

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The European project Sherpack – “Innovative structured polysaccharides‐based materials for recyclable and biodegradable flexible packaging” – just started ; the kick‐off meeting was held on 14th June 2017 at CTP in Grenoble. The objective is to develop a renewable, biodegradable and recyclable flexible paper‐based packaging material, that can be easily converted by heat‐sealing and folding, with improved stiffness and grip, in order to replace materials such as plastics or aluminium foil currently used on the market by an advanced biomaterial.
Sherpack was selected among 70 proposals in the EU funded H2020 BBI‐2016‐R05 call for projects on “Advanced biomaterials for smart food packaging”. A consortium of 6 partners – 3 industrial partners and 3 research centres – from 5 EU countries received a grant from the Bio‐based Industries Joint Undertaking.
Nowadays, food packaging needs to be both functional and innovative, and to offer good end‐of‐life alternatives.
Sherpack aims at developing 2 proofs‐of‐concept for such packaging materials, through 3 major innovations that will be brought together to offer new functionalities : wet‐lamination of a thin layer of fibre specialty on the cellulosic substrate, formulation and coating of a biodegradable polymer waterborne emulsion, and specific design, formulation and printing of a polysaccharides grid to improve the grip and stiffness.

Sherpack’s cellulosic materials will be brand new and inventive, and integrate concepts that will enhance food conservation, guarantee customers’ safety, and improve mechanical properties and converting while remaining recyclable in the paper process, biodegradable, and compostable. The materials developed in Sherpack will be assessed in terms of economic and environmental impacts to ensure they are consistent with the market requirements.
As Sherpack aims to cover the whole value chain, from raw materials to end of life of the packaging, an advisory group of industrialists will offer valuable input on constraints such as packaging converting, transportation and store restocking, to guarantee that end‐market requirements are met. Sherpack will also rely on dissemination and training activities to maximise the impact of the project and ensure knowledge is transferred and that the innovations developed in Sherpack spread well beyond the project.
The market opportunities for Sherpack’s materials, which aim to replace flexible plastic packaging materials for dry food packaging, weigh 3.7 Billion€/y in Europe. Moreover a new, bio‐based value chain based on the innovative flexible packaging product will be created through Sherpack, and strong cross‐sectorial interconnections will be generated between raw materials, pulp and paper and food.