Javier Zabaleta, CEO & Managing Director of the ITENE research centre.



1. Which technology are you promoting during IPACK IMA?


Compostability tests


At stand B80 in Hall 5P of IPACK-IMA, ITENE will show its strong capabilities for carrying out compostability tests which let companies obtain the main international certifications (TÜV Austria, DIN CERTCO, BPI and European Bioplastics). We are working with more than 100 clients worldwide and we start tests processes every week. These tests are monitored by a highly qualified team, led by PhD researchers in the field, and are carried out in our headquarters, located in Valencia (Spain), where we have in total more than 3,000 m2 of laboratories and pilot plants. We know that many companies in Europe, and specially in Italy, are interested in developing new compostable applications and they need to guarantee their compostability.


ITENE is certified since 2015 to carry out industrial compostability tests by TÜV AUSTRIA and by DIN CERTCO. These two certification bodies are also authorised to award the Seedling logo, owned by European Bioplastics, to products that comply with the EN-13432:2000 standard. In addition, the mutual recognition agreement between DIN CERTCO and the American Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) makes it possible to obtain the BPI industrial compostability mark. Through ITENE’s test reports, therefore, companies can obtain these four certification logos.


Our laboratories are also recognised with TÜV Austria and DIN CERTCO home compostability certifications. In this way, companies producing raw materials or packaging manufacturers can prove that the product reaching the final consumer can be composted by the consumer in a domestic way and without the need to take their waste to specialised plants for recycling.


With a long expertise in this matter, ITENE is qualified to carry out each of the stages of the composting tests: characterization of materials, biodegradation, disintegration and ecotoxicity. These tests can be applied to different types of materials, such as cellulose or plastics, and also to different types of materials and additives and intermediate or final products, such as bags, containers or single-use utensils.



Transport simulation tests


We are also experts in transport simulation protocols and we carry out tests which realistically simulate distribution and transport in order to optimise the packaging system and to avoid product loss. Our transport simulation plant is certified by ISTA (International Safe Transit Association) and is equipped with advanced equipment: a multi-axial vibration table which reproduces both vertical and angular vibrations, an acceleration machine, a horizontal impact and stability machine, a compressometer, a drop test machine and environmental chambers.


Food safety tests


At IPACK IMA, we are also showing how we can help companies check the safety of materials in contact with novel and conventional food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals to ensure the quality of the packaged product under European and international legislation. Within this framework, I would like to highlight that ITENE provides support to detect and identify NIAS (non-intentionally added substances) in various types of food contact materials such as plastics, recycled plastics, paper and cardboard.



2. Which expectations do you have about the exhibition


At this exhibition, we want to share with European companies our capabilities for carrying out compostability tests, transport simulation tests and food contact tests.


We also want to find out what are the latest challenges companies are facing in order to offer them our technological solutions, with a comprehensive view of the value chain, from the assessment and adaptation of packaging applications to their end-of-life management, including compostability assessment. We are also developing new recycling processes, specially based on chemical and enzymatic recycling, and also accelerating the composting processes.



3. Which perspectives do you see during 2022


In 2022, we will see how companies move forward in the implementation of sustainability requirements and are committed to speeding up the transition to circular economy. These trends include a wide range of approaches, such as the compostability, recyclability or reusability assessment, and the development of new compostable applications, in which we are also strongly working. These solutions must always guarantee the safety of packaging materials in contact with food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. In addition, the economic cost has to be considered.


Some of the goals established by the European Union are approaching fast and we need to accelerate the R&D and innovation advances to transfer them into the market. The main goal all we have in mind is that, by 2030, all plastics packaging placed on the EU market must be either reusable, recycled or compostable in a cost-effective manner. ITENE, as a specialised research center in packaging, works jointly with companies as a partner to help them achieve their goals.