Paper and board show many advantages as packaging materials, but the current technologies employed to obtain adequate barrier properties for food packaging use synthetic polymers coating and lamination with plastic or aluminium foils—treatments which have a negative impact on packaging sustainability, poor recyclability and lack of biodegradability. Recently, biopolymers have attracted increased attention as paper coatings, which can provide new combinations in composite formulas to meet the requirements of food packaging. The number of studies on biopolymers for developing barrier properties of packaging materials is increasing, but only a few of them are addressed to food packaging paper. Polysaccharides are viewed as the main candidates to substitute oil-based polymers in food paper coating, due to their film forming ability, good affinity for paper substrate, appropriate barrier to gases and aroma, and positive effect on mechanical strength. Additionally, these biopolymers are biodegradable, non-toxic and act as a matrix for incorporation additives with specific functionalities for coated paper (i.e., active-antimicrobial properties). This paper presents an overview on the availability and application of polysaccharides from vegetal and marine biomass in coatings for foods packaging paper. The extraction methods, chemical modification and combination routes of these biopolymers in coatings for paper packaging are discussed.
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