Lab & Consulting Services



Functional Sustainable Packaging


June 1st, 2012 – May 31st, 2015


The use of more sustainable materials in packaging is a key demand from the consumers while also a need for the producer in order to comply with waste reduction legislations. However, various factors generally limit the uptake of biopolymers such as processing difficulties, incompatibility at the natural fillers-polymeric matrices interface, poor mechanical properties, possible toxicity due to natural material degradation, moisture sensitivity, high raw material cost, etc. In contrast, among biogenic polyesters, polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) have sufficient functional properties to replace some of the 250 MTs of plastics used worldwide today, especially in the packaging sector. Indeed these bio-polyesters maintain comparable performance with conventional fossil-based polymers, while keeping high biodegradability and versatility of derived formulations for a range of applications. The greatest challenge is in producing more cost effective and even more sustainable PHAs.

Furthermore, whereas the olive oil industry is important both in Europe and Latino America economies, the producers face the issue of generating large amounts of polluting wastewaters for which no fully satisfactory economical and effective treatment process exists to date. Recent research has discovered that PHA polymers are naturally produced by some bacteria that can be grown in wastewaters. However, these results have not yet been transferred to the industry.

In the OLI-PHA project, olive oil wastewater will be recovered and reused to obtain PHA biopolymers for use as advanced packaging material. A valorization of the waste materials will be obtained by using the leftover biomass (from biopolymer production) for biogas production and also by the extraction of antioxidants and natural fillers from the olive mill effluents to produce active packaging and polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB)-based composites.


IRIS (Spain)


INSTM (Italy), CICESE (Mexico), INTEMA (Argentina), ARCHA (Italy), FCTecnics (Spain), Peccianti (Italy), San Javier (Mexico), Sellopack (Columbia), La Grana (Spain), Cosmetic (Greece) and OWS (Belgium)

OWS’ tasks

Biodegradation, ecotoxicity and anaerobic digestion testing + LCA analysis




Mr. Steven Verstichel