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Characterisation of Bioactive Ingredients in Extracts of Fresh and Dried Coniferous Trees for the Development of Sustainable Packaging Materials

Background: Coniferous woods (Abies nordmanniana (Stev.) Spach, Abies procera Rehd, Picea abies (L.) H.Karst, and Picea pungens Engelm.) could contain useful secondary metabolites to produce sustainable packaging materials, e.g., by substitution of harmful petrol-based additives in plastic packaging. This study aims to characterise the antioxidant and light-absorbing properties and ingredients of different coniferous wood extracts with regard to different plant fragments and drying conditions. Furthermore, the valorisation of used Christmas trees is evaluated. Methods: Different drying and extraction techniques were applied with the extracts being characterised by determining the total phenolic content (TPC), total antioxidant capacity (TAC), and absorbance in the ultraviolet range (UV). Gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and an acid–butanol assay (ABA) were used to characterise the extract constituents. Results: All the extracts show a considerably high UV absorbance while interspecies differences did occur. All the fresh and some of the dried biomass extracts reached utilisable TAC and TPC values. A simplified extraction setup for industrial application is evaluated; comparable TAC results could be reached with modifications. Conclusion: Coniferous woods are a promising renewable resource for preparation of sustainable antioxidants and photostabilisers. This particularly applies to Christmas trees used for up to 12 days. After extraction, the biomass can be fully valorised by incorporation in paper packaging.

Publication date: 28/10/2020

Author: Thomas Havelt

Reference: doi: 10.3390/pr8111366

MDPI (processes)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.