Paper and cardboard represented 41% of packaging waste generated by weight in the EU-28 in 2013 (about 32.2 million tonnes). The appearance of microplastics in recycled paper secondary materials and compost is becoming a major concern. There is a high potential for mobilizing synergies between business and research in the area of combined paper-bioplastics packaging design, production and recycling in Central Europe. Linkages are not sufficiently established due to lack of awareness among paper packaging producers on new bioplastics materials, a separated focus on plastics and paper in clusters and branch organizations, the lack of a common innovation strategy within a clear European and national legal and economic context and the lack of dedicated tools to support SME’s in introducing new paper-plastics packaging solutions. The main project objective is to provide to stronger linkages between R&D institutions and companies in the area of paper-plastics packaging solutions with the aim to introduce verified biodegradable materials in paper and cardboard packaging. The project foresees an innovative cross-sectoral approach and the involvement of clusters, branch organizations and stakeholders, that will allow to focus on regional economic specialisations and to speed up technology transfer. The Project Partners will establish a Transnational Biocomposite Packaging Centre as a virtual RDI platform that brings together cross-sectoral capacities in paper and bioplastics, linked with regional innovation systems and the European Enterprise Network, supported by an integrated cross-sectoral business support service including a set of dedicated tools tested under pilot actions and disseminated among cluster coordinators and EEN consultants. A Central European Strategy on biocomposite packaging innovation systems shall set the framework, a handbook: "Sustainable Paper-Plastic Design" and an audit tool will help companies to quickly verify opportunities and chose for change.
The project has already started. The partners met in the lovely capital of Slovenia, who received the European Capital Award from the European Commission in 2016, to present themselves, sharing ideas and doubts. The group is quite heterogeneous, public research institutes, universities, SMEs, NGO, with one common goal: find out a green alternative to paper-plastics packaging, in order to introduce verified biodegradable materials in millions of people’s daily lives.