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Development of sustainable fibre based food packaging materials from agricultural harvesting waste

The careless disposal of waste – known as littering – is a major problem in cities. A major part of the waste thrown away consists of single-use plastics (SUP) and MMML (Multi Material Multi Layer) products, which are difficult to recycle. As the needs for fibre alternatives for packaging that are made from renewable materials suitable for direct food contact is constantly increasing, innovative chemical-free processes for producing these materials are being developed.


Project goals

The project SustainFibresFCM addresses the topic of food contact materials (FCM) and aims to develop safe and sustainable packaging made from natural fibres. Regional agricultural waste is primarily used to produce molded fibres packaging that meets the requirements of the SUPD (Single-Use Plastics Directive). This packaging should be suitable for the take-away market and replace conventional plastic packaging.


The innovative, chemical free process of thermal pressure hydrolysis (THD), which can be integrated into a bio economy setup, will then be pulped. The modification of the fibres serves to adapt the properties of the resulting FCM food trays in terms of mechanical and surface characteristics.


Proving the food safety of a (new) fibre based material has become much more challenging as they are not yet acknowledged as accepted food contact materials, unlike wood based fibres. In order to evaluate the safety of substances, more data is required at European level that migrate from these complex natural materials. Therefore, the project follows a novel approach by combining in-vitro bioassays with chemical analysis, which was recently recommended for the evaluation of such complex natural mixtures. The project will also be accompanied by a life cycle analysis (LCA) of the developed products and an analytical review of the end-of-life (EOL) option of recycling via the waste paper stream. In a first step, various fibres, for example straw or sugar beet, will be evaluated as starting materials in order to determine the technical feasibility, mechanical properties, safety risk profiles, sustainability and influence on recyclability.


The research project SustainFibresFCM will create the basis for the application of new fibre based food packaging made from upcycled agricultural harvesting waste.


Funding: FFG; SMWK; NCN / M-ERA.NET Call 2022

Sustainability Goals

Responsible Consumption and Producttion
Sustainable Development Goal: Climate Action


OFI Expert for Packaging & Recycling

Angelika Wlodarczyk, MSc
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