-/Monika Klick
Institute of Agricultural Technology

Bundesallee 47
38116 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 596 4102/ 4103
Fax: +49 531 596 4199

Bio-based glycolic acid for food packaging


Glycolic acid from the oxidants of ethylene glycol  (c) Thünen-Institut
Glycolic acid from the oxidants of ethylene glycol (© Thünen-Institut)

Full recyclable food package with enhanced gas barrier properties and new functionalities by the use of high performance coatings


Polyglycolic acid is an innovative plastic with outstanding performance for food packaging. We want to synthesise glycolic acid the key compound of polyglycolic acid from renewable resources.

Background and Objective

Currently 1.8 million tons barrier foils were produced which are commonly used for food packaging. To keep the freshness of the packaged groceries barrier foils mostly made of different layers of plastics and metals are used. Such common foils are hard to produce and difficult to recycle.

An alternative and innovative plastic with great barrier performance is polyglycolic acid. Its major compound glycolic acid is made from ethylene glycol. If ethylene glycol is produced from renewable resources the final product polyglycolic acid is a fully bio-based plastic which is also biodegradable.

Thünen Institute of Agricultural Technology’s task in an EU funded project is to develop the oxidation of bio-based ethylene glycol and to isolate its product glycolic acid. The Thünen Institute can draw on wide experience in oxidation of other bio based materials like glucose, surfactants and hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). The obtained pure bio-based glycolic acid will be given to project partners for polymerization and further processing to food packages.


First step is the catalysed oxidation of ethylene glycol with oxygen to glycolic acid in water with a gold based catalyst. In the next step a feasible method has to be developed to isolate and purify the glycolic acid to meet the requirements for its polymerization.


Involved Thünen-Partners

Involved external Thünen-Partners

    (Valencia, Spanien)
  • aina
    (Madrid, Spanien)
  • Biopolis SA
    (Valencia, Spanien)
  • Carton Bros Manor Farm
    (Clonee, Irland)
  • Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
    (Madrid, Cordoba, Spanien)
    (Valencia, Spanien)
  • eufic
    (Brüssel, Belgien)
  • Fraunhofer-ICT
    (Pfinztal, Deutschland)
  • Grupo Apex
    (Léon, Spanien)
  • iris
    (Madrid, Spanien)
  • mi-plast
    (Rijeka, Kroatien)

Funding Body

  • Bio-based Industries
    (international, öffentlich)


6.2017 - 9.2020

More Information

Projekt type:
Project funding number: Grant Agreement 745791
Project status: finished


Funding Body:

„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 745791.“