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Effect of PVOH/PLA + Wax Coatings on Physical and Functional Properties of Biodegradable Food Packaging Films

Biodegradable polymers suffer from inherent performance limitations that severely limit their practical application. Their functionalization by coating technology is a promising strategy to significantly improve their physical properties for food packaging. In this study, we investigated the double coating technique to produce multifunctional, high barrier and heat-sealable biodegradable films. The systems consisted of a web layer, made of poly(lactide) (PLA) and poly(butylene-adipate-co-terephthalate) (PBAT), which was first coated with a poly(vinyl) alcohol based layer, providing high barrier, and then with a second layer of PLA + ethylene-bis-stereamide (EBS) wax (from 0 to 20%), to provide sealability and improve moisture resistance. The films were fully characterized in terms of chemical, thermal, morphological, surface and functional properties. The deposition of the PVOH coating alone, with a thickness of 5 μm, led to a decrease in the oxygen transmission rate from 2200 cm3/m2 d bar, for the neat substrate (thickness of 22 μm), to 8.14 cm3/m2 d bar (thickness of 27 μm). The deposition of the second PLA layer did not affect the barrier properties but provided heat sealability, with a maximum bonding strength equal to 6.53 N/25 mm. The EBS wax incorporation into the PLA slightly increased the surface hydrophobicity, since the water contact angle passed from 65.4°, for the neat polylactide layer, to 71° for the 20% wax concentration. With respect to the substrate, the double-coated films exhibited increased stiffness, with an elastic modulus ca. three times higher, and a reduced elongation at break, which, however still remained above 75%. Overall, the developed double-coated films exhibited performances comparable to those of the most common synthetic polymer films used in the packaging industry, underlining their suitability for the packaging of sensitive foods with high O2-barrier requirements.

Publication date: 25/02/2022

Author: Annalisa Apicella

Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym14050935

MDPI (polymers)


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.