UBE and AINIA develop flexible nylon packaging that double the shelf-life of prepared foods


A puree can be kept in optimum conditions for consumption more than 300 days

The company UBE Corporation Europe, installed in the University of Valencia Science Park (PCUV), and the Technological Institute of the Agroalimentary Industry (AINIA), have developed a flexible pack of nylon, of very little weight and resistant to sterilization (120º of temperature), which extends the shelf-life of prepared foods, such as baby foods, sauces, purées, jams and cans.

"Comparing the new plastic film with current flexible packaging, we have managed to double the shelf-life of these foods, sensitive to oxidation", explain the people in charge of this project, Sergi Salvà and Pedro Zomeño.

"For example, a puree of vegetables, which in the current flexible packaging has a shelf-life of approximately 150 days, in a container developed with these innovative materials can be maintained in optimal conditions for consumption more than 300 days and this, without having that add preservative additives, "says Sergi Salvà, head of UBE R & D Projects.

The objective of this development is also "to replace conventional rigid containers, that is, cans, glass jars or more rigid and heavy plastics", adds Salvà. The new containers have greater ergonomics and ease of use, while reducing the carbon footprint in the environment, since the amount of material needed to cover the food is minimal. "They suppose an infinitesimal part of the weight of the whole of the product, normally in the range of 50 to 100 microns", informs the person in charge of UBE.

One of three developments

These new containers are one of the three results obtained within the framework of the project 'New sustainable solutions for the flexible packaging of high consumption foods through advanced copolyamides' (COPAFLEX), promoted by UBE and AINIA and framed within the call RETOS Colaboración.

"We've been working together for years. We bring our experience in the design and development of nylon as a functional polymer that is used in many food packaging, which is precisely our main market, "says Salvà. "And AINIA adds its knowledge in the evaluation of these materials. We have made the semi-industrial tests of manufacture and filling of the containers to be able to analyze the container-product interaction, its useful life and the environmental impact ", adds Pedro Zomeño, responsible of Projects in Packaging Technologies of AINIA.

"In this case we have decided not to patent or intellectually protect the development in order to popularize it. What we want is a greater diffusion of these containers and that this technology is preferably used with material designed by UBE", advances Salvà. "We have aroused great interest in countries where the cold chain can not be guaranteed. On the other hand, as regards the other two packaging designs, "they are under patented process because of their level of innovation".

UBE Corporations Europe S.A.U is a company installed in the University of Valencia Science Park, with a production plant located in Castellón. It is part of the European corporation of the parent company based in Tokyo (Japan). They are specialists in nylon 6 polyamides and copolyamides, engineering plastics that are used in applications of a market that grows at an annual rate of 5-6%.