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12 Mar 2024

Carbios has had their PLA enzyme approved for food contact applications

Carbios has had their PLA enzyme approved for food contact applications

Carbios, a France-based biotech company, was founded in 2011 and since then the company has been researching and developing an enzymatic recycling technique. So far, the company have seen excellent results as their PET-degrading enzyme has outperformed its competition.

In a more recent breakthrough, Carbios has developed enzymes which aid biodegradation. This means that its enzymatic biodegradation process makes polylactic acid (PLA) 100% compostable, even when the material is at room temperature. This causes an improvement to the material, as normally it is only compostable when it is under industrial conditions, at controlled temperatures. This is a significant improvement for the material’s compostability, it is much better for the environment and it is an excellent breakthrough for the company.

The enzyme that makes this all possible, was developed by Carbiolice who are a Carbios Group company and the enzyme is called Carbios Active. The purpose of this enzyme is that it allows plastic packaging that is made from PLA to be gathered together with bio-waste and to then be recovered through industrial or domestic composting or methanisation. This works through the enzyme being directly applied to flexible or ridged PLA packaging during its manufacturing process. It will also go through this integration without any changes to the product line being made.

Carbios has said that once the technology is inside the PLA packaging, it remains inactive whilst the product is in its useful life. This means that the technology will not alter the products mechanical properties. The encapsulated enzyme is only able to become active once it has been collected with biowaste and it also has to be under composting conditions. This clever and useful technique, has made it possible for polylactic acid (PLA) to become 100% compostable. This will be extremely beneficial to multiple companies and to the environment, as in 2022 it was calculated that the PLA market accounted for 27% of global bioplastics production.

This breakthrough has led to Carbios Active being included in the U.S. food and Drug Administration Inventory of Effective Food Contact Substances (FCS) along with the Assigned Food Contact Notification (FCN) 2325. This inclusion means that the enzyme has officially been approved for use in packaging materials that are sold within the US and will be in contact with food. This includes rigid and flexible packaging, along with various other applications. Furthermore, Carbios Active has also recently been certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), which is North America’s leading authority around compostable products and packaging.

CEO of Carbios, Emmanuel Ladent, commented, “For Carbios, product safety is of utmost priority and we consider FCN from the FDA as the gold standard. The US is a key market for Carbios’ biodegradation solution and we expect the FCN clearance to drive significant additional demand in North America in 2024.”

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