Materials and technologies – February 2020

03 March 2020

Biobased and compostable packaging
Researchers at Lodz University of Technology studied the application of natural food colorants as indicator substances in intelligent biodegradable packaging materials. An article (2.38 MB) is published in Food and Chemical Toxicology. WRAP has published new guidance (1.4 MB) to help businesses make informed choices when considering the use of compostable packaging.

On 13 February, Mieke van den Berg held a speech entitled ‘Nanocellulose as a sustainable packaging material: the possibilities and issues in the packaging life-cycle’ as part of her master assignment at the University of Twente. Chairman of the assessment committee was professor Roland ten Klooster who holds the NVC Chair Packaging Design and Management.
In a paper (225 kB) Islamic Azad University researchers discuss positive and negative aspects of using nanocomposites in food packaging. The paper was submitted for the 3rd International Congress on Science and Engineering. In a paper (354 kB) published in Advanced Materials Science and Technology, researchers at East China normal University also discuss the application of nanomaterials in food packaging.

Edible “security tag” embedded into medicine
Purdue University researchers are aiming to stump counterfeiters with an edible “security tag” embedded into medicine. To imitate the drug, a counterfeiter would have to uncrack a complicated puzzle of patterns not fully visible to the naked eye. An article (2.19 MB) about the research is published in Nature Communications. A YouTube video is also available.

Antimicrobial packaging
A novel composite film (created by the bonding of an antimicrobial layer to conventional, clear polyethylene plastic typically used to vacuum-package foods such as meat and fish) could help to decrease foodborne illness outbreaks, according to researchers at Penn State University. An article (abstract) about the research is published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology.
For his thesis at University College Cork, David Sullivan investigated the development of nanomaterials of several of the most effective natural antimicrobial materials. He also assessed their antimicrobial activity and the application as coatings either directly or indirectly on food products. Recently his thesis (4.29 MB) was made public.

Wood packaging
A technology to destroy destructive pests in wood products is closer to reaching the marketplace after a recent commercial trial at Penn State University. The method uses dielectric heating and radio frequency to treat products such as pallets. Weighing in on a debate that has raged for decades, other Penn State researchers, after conducting a series of ultra-detailed comparisons, found that pallets made of wood are slightly more environmentally friendly and sustainable than those made of plastic. They found that wooden pallets that are heat-treated to kill pests incur a carbon footprint 20% to 30% lower than those treated with methyl bromide fumigation. An article (1.07 MB) about the research is published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology.

Prices for plastics
Dutch trade magazine Vraag en Aanbod publishes a weekly overview of the prices for plastics (in Dutch). The prices given are estimated averages between the gross prices published in the trade journals and the net prices.

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