To address the overwhelming negative environmental issues of plastic packaging1  and to enter a circular economy, it is urgent and crucial to lessen the negative burden of packaging resources (renewable without competition for food resources vs. oil-based) and of packaging waste (fully biodegradable* vs. accumulated):

*Fully biodegradable in natural conditions or home composting conditions in opposition to industrially compostable materials


Currently more than 99,5% of plastic is produced from fossil resources (oil) 3. Among biobased plastics very few are produced from non-edible resources.

32% of plastic packaging leaks out of collection systems worldwide1, of which, at least, 8 million tons end into the ocean each year2

Furthermore, despite extremely dynamic R&D on biobased & biodegradable materials (>1,4k scientific publications/year on the last 10 years), commercially available bio-packaging does not yet properly meet the huge market and society demands 4, 5 . Currently marketed bio-polymers are either made from food resources (e.g. PLA, PBS, starch-based blends or PHB), or not fully biodegradable in natural conditions(case of PLA) or not water resistant (case of starch-based blends)4. Among them, PHAs (PolyHydroxyAlkanoates) are the more promising due to their inherent full biodegradability5 and to their great diversity (more than 150 monomers)6 from which we can obtain tailored polymers that cover a wide range of applications5,10,14,15.

PHAs are fully synthesized by a great diversity of microorganisms as intracellular inclusions.

Illustration of cell containing PHAs

PHAs are a family of natural polyesters (linear polymers) composed of 3-hydroxy fatty acid monomers.

Illustration of Monomer structural formula

However the few PHAs available today on market (the homopolymer Poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) or heteropolymers P(3HB-co-3HV) with low amounts of 3-hydroxyvalerate) are rigid and have brittle limiting performance. Moreover their cost is still high (4,5-12€/kg i. e.  3-15 times higher than conventional polymers like PE and PP)7-9. More importantly their environmental impact should be lessen since PHAs synthesis is done using noble food resources and high amounts of solvents are used for their recovery and purification7,13

In this context, the purpose of the project LOOP4PACK is to contribute to the development of a French sustainable valorization chain of agro-industrial residues leading to microbial engineered polymers (PHAs) for flexible packaging for food applications.

logo ANR


Sustainable bioplastics from agro-industrial residues to close the packaging loop: (projet ANR-19-CE43-0006)

The project has been granted for 482,8 k€ by the ANR (total cost 761.6 k€), for a duration of 3 and a half years.


1 – European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. A Circular Economy for Plastics, Insights from Research and Innovation to Inform Policy and Funding Decisions.; 2019. doi:10.2777/269031

2 – Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics.; 2016. doi:10.1103/Physrevb.74.035409

3 – Combination of data from European Bioplastics and Plastics Europe for the year 2017

4 – Guillard, Gaucel, Fornaciari, et al. Front Nutr. 2018;5:121. doi:10.3389/FNUT.2018.00121

5  – Koller. Appl Food Biotechnol. 2014;1(1):3-15. doi:10.22037/AFB.V1I1.7127

6 – Li, Yang, & Loh. NPG Asia Mater. 2016;8(4):e265-e265. doi:10.1038/am.2016.48

7 – Kourmentza, Plácido, Venetsaneas, et al. Bioengineering. 2017;4(2):55. doi:10.3390/bioengineering4020055

8 – Kosseva, & Rusbandi. Int J Biol Macromol. 2018;107:762-778. doi:10.1016/J.IJBIOMAC.2017.09.054

9 – Castilho, Mitchell, & Freire. Bioresour Technol. 2009;100(23):5996-6009. doi:10.1016/J.BIORTECH.2009.03.088

10 – Koller, Atlié, Dias, et al. In: Chen, ed. Plastics from Bacteria : Natural Functions and Applications. Vol 14. Microbiology Monographs; 2010:85-119. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-03287-5_5

11 – Fernández-Dacosta, Posada, Kleerebezem, et al. Bioresour Technol. 2015;185:368-377. doi:10.1016/J.BIORTECH.2015.03.025

12 – Harding, Dennis, von Blottnitz, et al. J Biotechnol. 2007;130(1):57-66. doi:10.1016/J.JBIOTEC.2007.02.012

13 – Koller, Niebelschütz, & Braunegg. Eng Life Sci. 2013;13(6):549-562. doi:10.1002/elsc.201300021

14 – Nielsen, Rahman, Rehman, et al. Microb Biotechnol. 2017;0. doi:10.1111/1751-7915.12776

15 – Tan, Chen, Li, et al. Polymers (Basel). 2014;6(3):706-754. doi:10.3390/polym6030706

16 Pagliano, Ventorino, Panico, et al. Biotechnol Biofuels. 2017;10(1):113. doi:10.1186/s13068-017-0802-4

17 Fernández-Dacosta, Posada, Kleerebezem, et al. Bioresour Technol. 2015;185:368-377. doi:10.1016/J.BIORTECH.2015.03.025

18 Berthet, Angellier-Coussy, Chea, et al. Compos Part A  Appl Sci Manuf. 2015. doi:

19 Berthet, Angellier-Coussy, Guillard, et al. J Appl Polym Sci. 2016;133(2):n/a-n/a. doi:10.1002/app.42528