LIFE+ WHEYPACK - Reduction of CO2 emissions by the PHB use obtained from whey: demonstration in dairy products packaging.

LIFE13 ENV/ES/000608

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Contact details:

Contact person: Miguel ALBORCH
Tel: 34961366090
Fax: 34961318008
Email: ttecnologia@ainia.es; malborch@ainia.es

Project description:


Ecosystems are becoming degraded as a result of the exhaustive use of non-renewable resources such as petrochemical-based polymers. The environmental impact of long-lasting plastic waste is a growing global concern. Solutions such as incineration produce significant greenhouse gas emissions. Petrol-based plastics are mostly used in packaging (food and non-food applications) as a low-cost product that is generally not reusable or not foreseen for reuse. These materials have a major environmental impact because of their non-biodegradability. Europe produces 67 millions tonnes of plastic waste per year, with a high carbon footprint (167-203 billions tonnes of CO2 equivalent). Nearly 50% on average of all petrol-based plastic in the EU, most of it packaging, goes to landfill.

The food-packaging market remains dominated by petrol-based plastic (99% market share), but there is a growing market for bio-based plastic produced from renewable resources. The global production of bioplastic could reach 5.8 million tonnes in 2016, up from 1.2 million tonnes in 2011.

One by-product of the agri-food industry that could be used in packaging production is whey from cheese making (around 9 tonnes of whey per tonne of cheese). Whey is mostly water (around 85% weight/volume) and contains the solids present in whole milk, including whey proteins (20% of total proteins), and most of the lactose, water soluble vitamins and minerals. EU27 whey production is about 50 million tonnes. At present, most is used to produce whey powder, which is used as a dietary supplement, but the quantities of whey produced surpass by far the demand for whey powder.


The LIFE+ WHEYPACK project will demonstrate the environmental and socio-economic benefits of producing a biodegradable food packaging material using polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), which is obtained from whey; PHB will be produced using a process of microbial fermentation.

In particular, the project will:

  • Demonstrate the environmental, technical and economic feasibility of: o PHB bioproduction from whey; o Polymer compounding; and o Development of partly biodegradable PHB-based packages (trays) and demonstration of their application to dairy products: cheese packaging;
  • Demonstrate that total greenhouse gas emissions from the new production process are lower than from manufacturing of petrol-based food packages (polypropylene, PP). Energy and water consumption will also be assessed;
  • Study the conditions for scaling up of the process from pilot to industrial scale.
  • Expected results:

  • A PHB-based packaging manufacturing process (using whey) that has a carbon footprint 35% lower than PP-based packaging manufacturing;
  • A 75% reduction in BOD (biological oxygen demand) and a 40% reduction in COD (chemical oxygen demand) of the ‘industrialised’ whey by-product (after its use for PHB production) when compared with original whey by-product without treatment;
  • Reduction in the production cost of PHB polymer of up to 50% because of the use of dairy by-products (revalorisation of whey surplus), instead of purpose-grown crops as raw materials;
  • Production of 100% biodegradable packages (200 pilot units) based on PHB polymer obtained by injection moulding processes (trays), which will be used for dairy products (cheese).



Environmental issues addressed:


Environmental management - Eco-products design
Industry-Production - Food and Beverages
Waste - Waste use
Waste - Packaging and plastic waste
Water - Water quality improvement
Climate change Mitigation - GHG reduction in non EU ETS sectors


waste use‚  packaging‚  food production‚  greenhouse gas‚  life-cycle management‚  biodegradability‚  alternative material

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Asociacin de Investigacin de la Industria Agroalimentaria
Type of organisation Professional organisation
Description AINIA (Asociación de Investigación de la Industria Agroalimentaria) is a non-profit industry association formed in 1987 by companies from the agri-food sector and related industries, with the support of the Valencia Regional Institute of Small and Medium Industries. AINIA has more than 800 companies (both SMEs and large) as members. Its mission is to "add value to businesses by leading innovation and technological development in a responsible and committed way".
Partners AIMPLAS(ASOCIACION DE INVESTIGACION DE MATERIALES PLASTICOS Y CONEXAS, AIMPLAS), Spain Montesinos(Central Quesera Montesinos), Spain Embalnor(Embalnor, SA), Portugal


Project reference LIFE13 ENV/ES/000608
Duration 01-JUN-2014 to 31-JUL -2017
Total budget 1,188,777.00 €
EU contribution 584,888.00 €
Project location Comunidad Valenciana(España) Murcia(España)


Read more:

Leaflet "Reducción de las emisiones de CO2 mediante el uso ...
Leaflet "Reducción de las emisiones de CO2 mediante el uso ...
Leaflet "Redução das emissões de CO2 pelo uso PHB Obtido a ...
Leaflet "Reduction of CO2 emissions by the PHB use obtaine ...
Leaflet "Redução das emissões de CO2 pelo uso PHB obtido a ...
Leaflet "Reduction of CO2 Emissions by the PDB use obtaine ...
Poster "Reducción de las emisiones de CO2 mediante el uso ...
Poster "Reduction of CO2 Emissions by the PHB use obtaine ...
Poster "Redução das emissões de CO2 pelo uso PHB obtido a ...
Project web site Project's website
Video link Whey pack: PHB-based packaging from whey - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC_fPkt87MY


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version