To give value to cellulosic materials for packaging: NewGenPak for sustainability


An international school to develop innovative and sustainable cellulosic packaging: through research, the goal is the training of young people in an increasingly strategic area for the European economy.

by Barbara Merlo

NewGenPak, the acronym of New Generation of Functional Cellulose Fibre-Based Packaging Materials for Sustainability, is an interdisciplinary research & training network made of eight European universities, four research institutes and six enterprises between partners and associated partners. Its primary aim is to create a European training network designed to improve the career prospects of ten early stage researchers (ESRs) and two experienced researchers (ERs) in both the public and private sector. The project started at 2011-12-01 and ends at 2015-11-30.

NewGenPak is a Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN, see box), coordinated by prof. Chris Breen from Sheffield Hallam University. The overarching aim of this ITN is to take wood cellulose based packaging materials a significant step forward by replacing petroleum-based additives used in paper and board packaging materials, in order to achieve the barrier and other crucial properties needed for competitive, low carbon footprint, packaging materials. This must be achieved using sustainable production methods whilst producing a cohort of excellently trained ERs/ESRs.

What are Marie Curie Actions and how do they work

There are several types of Marie Curie Actions:

  • Initial Training Networks (ITN): an action providing training opportunities for early stage researchers usually provided by a network of universities, businesses and research institutes;
  • Intra-European Fellowships for Career Development (IEF): an individual grant allowing an experienced researcher to move within Europe to pursue his/her research project;
  • Career Integration Grants (CIG): a lump sum to encourage experienced researchers to settle/return in Europe;
  • Co-funding of Regional, National, and International Programmes (COFUND): a co-funding mechanism providing an extra financial support to national, regional research mobility programmes;
  • Industry Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP): an action promoting partnership and collaboration between business and academia. Early stage researchers, experienced researchers, or technical research staff can participate;
  • International Outgoing Fellowships (IOF): an individual grant for experienced researchers willing to receive a research training in a host institution in a third country (outside Europe);
  • International Incoming Fellowships (IIF): an individual grant for experienced researchers based in third countries (non-Europeans) willing to receive a research training in a host institution based in Europe;
  • International Research Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES): a staff exchange scheme fostering collaboration between research institutions based in Europe and in Third countries.

All the information about Marie Curie Actions in the following Website.

Project’s goals and structure

The network has been designed to achieve the following objectives:

  • to conduct top-level research and training, and devise innovative solutions for specific EU needs in the area of sustainable packaging;
  • to advance the state-of-the-art in wood cellulose based sustainable packaging in three specific areas: next generation packaging composites; cellulose-fibre based active packaging; environmental, economic and societal aspects of packaging production;
  • to educate the next generation of researchers inside a broad European research training network, which includes universities, research centers and industry, thereby accelerating the researchers advancement to team leader status;
  • to improve the career prospects of ERs and ESRs through complementary training such as: writing and presentation skills; language, effective communication and collaboration; project management and finance; project/product cycles; entrepreneurship;
  • to create an integrated, long-term sustainable packaging research and training base in the EU by bringing together universities, research institutes and industrial players active in key research disciplines.

The NewGenPak project envisages creation of the European network of multidisciplinary research teams through a system of training and workshops, and individual research programs. As a result, innovative solutions will be developed, that respond to current needs of the EU in the field of packaging, including crucial aspects of sustainable development. The science-industry cooperation and trainings of a new generation of multi-disciplinary scientists will enable to develop a concept of environmentally friendly packaging.

The research projects encompass the entire cycle of product life and package from nanoscale, through the fabrication of component materials to the delivery of concept on commercial productionline. The scientific work programme is divided into Work Packages (WPs) that broadly address barrier coatings, active coatings and their sustainability, respectively:

  • Next Generation Packaging Composites
  • Next generation cellulose-fibre based active packaging
  • Sustainable production of packaging.

NewGenPak Partners

  1. Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom): coordinator
  2. Karlstads Universitet (Sweden)
  3. Zachodniopomorski Uniwersytet Technologiczny w Szczecinie (Poland)
  4. Instituto Tecnologico del Embalaje, Transporte y Logistica (Spain)
  5. Chesapeake (United Kingdom)
  6. Imerys Minerals (United Kingdom)
  7. Innovhub – Stazioni Sperimentali per l’Industria (Italy)
  8. Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna (Italy)
  9. Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble (France)
  10. Papiertechnische Stiftung (Germany)
  11. Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (Denmark)
  12. Bumaga BV (Holland)

Associated Partners:

  • Stora Enso Corporation (Sweden)
  • Colorobia Italia (Italy)
  • Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung E.V. (Germany)
  • Slovenská Technická Univerzita V Bratislave (Slovakia)
  • Munich University of Applied Science (Germany)
  • Ahlstrom Research and Services (France)