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International Journal of Polymer Science
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 562381, 7 pages
Research Article

Properties of Whey-Protein-Coated Films and Laminates as Novel Recyclable Food Packaging Materials with Excellent Barrier Properties

1Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, Giggenhauser Straße 35, 85354 Freising, Germany
2Innovació i Recerca Industrial i Sostenible (IRIS), Parc Mediterrani de la Tecnologia, Avenida Carl Friedrich Gauss No. 11, 08860 Castelldefels, Spain
3Department of Chemical Engineering, Industrial Chemistry and Materials Science, University of Pisa, Via Diotisalvi No. 2, 56126 Pisa, Italy

Received 5 November 2011; Revised 16 March 2012; Accepted 16 March 2012

Academic Editor: Jan-Chan Huang

Copyright © 2012 Markus Schmid et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In case of food packaging applications, high oxygen and water vapour barriers are the prerequisite conditions for preserving the quality of the products throughout their whole lifecycle. Currently available polymers and/or biopolymer films are mostly used in combination with barrier materials derived from oil based plastics or aluminium to enhance their low barrier properties. In order to replace these non-renewable materials, current research efforts are focused on the development of sustainable coatings, while maintaining the functional properties of the resulting packaging materials. This article provides an introduction to food packaging requirements, highlights prior art on the use of whey-based coatings for their barriers properties, and describes the key properties of an innovative packaging multilayer material that includes a whey-based layer. The developed whey protein formulations had excellent barrier properties almost comparable to the ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymers (EVOH) barrier layer conventionally used in food packaging composites, with an oxygen barrier (OTR) of <2 [cm³(STP)/(m²d bar)] when normalized to a thickness of 100 μm. Further requirements of the barrier layer are good adhesion to the substrate and sufficient flexibility to withstand mechanical load while preventing delamination and/or brittle fracture. Whey-protein-based coatings have successfully met these functional and mechanical requirements.