Dr. José María Lagarón, from The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), YPACK project coordinator, said: “The ideal packaging involves lower carbon and water footprints, is biodegradable and/or compostable, makes use of wastes or by-products, is properly eco-designed, safe and has the right preservation properties to minimize food waste. YPACK is delivering on this vision.” Active packaging breakthrough The biopolymer PHBV was used to create very thin “bio-paper” from food industry by-products. Zinc oxide and oregano essential oil, two active ingredients, were incorporated into the bio-papers. These compounds have good antimicrobial activity against two bacteria that can cause food poisoning: Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli (E.coli). Researchers discovered an optimal ratio of the active ingredients that showed successful short-term (15 days) and medium-term (up to 48 days) anti-bacterial effects in ‘open’ and ‘closed’ systems. This means the formula could be used for food products where the packaging is opened and closed several times, for example to package ham slices or bread. The active components could be used in both trays and flow films as an active layer. These promising laboratory results show the potential of bio-based active packaging to increase the shelf life of fresh products like meat, fruits & vegetables and fresh pasta. However, due to regulatory restrictions within the EU, the final YPACK packaging will not, in the first instance, contain an active layer but will be made purely from biodegradable PHBV.