Paper and paperboard are the most widely used packaging materials for both food and non-food products. Because
they are composed of highly porous cellulose networks, they readily absorb moisture in high humidity
environments or when in contact with liquid or high moisture foods. Therefore they are often coated with
hydrophobic coating materials such as polyethylene (PE) to improve their water-resistant properties. One of the
major uses of such hydrophobic material coated paperboard is a disposable single-use paper cup with or without a
lid. Today, the paper-based materials are coated with a thin layer of a petroleum derived plastic, mostly
polyethylene, which has provided the cups and other packaging solutions with the required barrier property and
water resistance. Hence, the ongoing challenge is to coat the paper with a biobased, hydrophobic polymeric
material which must be repulpable or otherwise biodegradable in most of the environments considered.
Many interesting developments are already known for the manufacturing of cellulose-based products, such as
microfibrillated celluloses (MFC’s) or modified celluloses, usable in the paper packaging industry. Paper and
paperboard in combination with Green-Polyethylene, MFC’s and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA’s) seems to be the
most promising solution for the packaging industry in the near future and the development of the thermoplastic
modified celluloses for the next future. Regarding environmental considerations, PHA is a promising solution for
the paper packaging industry but the problem of material recycling has to be solved and a solution comparable with
the recyclability of PE-coated paper packaging products should be obtained.
This review consists of a critical analysis of published results of 1-way food packaging and discusses more in
detail what will be necessary for the development of 1-way food packaging based solely on wood derived products
and biodegradable polymers.