CurCol • Development of natural, biodegradable colourants and inks for packaging, made from curcumin

Curcumin, a natural colourant extracted from turmeric, is already used in the food industry and pharmaceutical sector. Broader application is currently hampered by its poor ultraviolet (UV) stability.

Recent research has shown, however, that it is possible to improve UV stability and generate other colours such as red and blue.

Logo-Projet CURCOL

CurCol is therefore looking into developing natural colourants and inks made from curcumin for use in packaging. This involves:

  • turmeric cultivation
  • chemical stabilisation and extraction of colourants
  • development of biodegradable inks formulated with these colourants
  • use in rigid or flexible packaging


Europe produces around 87 million cubic metres of packaging waste each year. Biobased packaging materials, such as polylactic acid (PLA), can be recycled via industrial composting. However, non-biodegradable colourants can release toxic compounds during composting.

No biodegradable colourants currently satisfy the criteria for packaging.

Key info

Project type: Interreg North-West Europe (NWE)

Start date: 1 April 2020

Duration: three years

Total cost: €2,610,000

Funding: €1,570,000

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Expected results

  • creation of three pilots to optimise the colourants (stability and extraction)
  • development of five new biodegradable colourants made from turmeric
  • definition of an economic model for turmeric cultivation in greenhouses (analysis of regulatory aspects in line with targeted applications)
  • job creation
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