Materials and technologies – February 2024

05 March 2024

Development of new packaging materials
Engineers at the University of Colorado and Sandia Labs have developed padding designs, printable with 3D printers, offering up to 25% more impact absorption than current technologies. The padding safeguards fragile items during transit and reduces damage risks significantly. The research (abstract) is published in Advanced Materials and Technology.
PhD candidate Sophie van Lange at WUR has developed plastic that is strong and hard and also recyclable. On a molecular scale, plastics consist of long chains. In traditional hard plastics, these chains are connected by chemical cross-links for strength. However, these cross-links are so robust that recycling becomes nearly impossible. Van Lange redesigned these plastics without chemical cross-links, utilising adjustable physical forces. She refers to the innovative plastics as "compleximers.”
RISE is coordinating the ProMultiFilms project. The main objective of the project is to develop high-performance, biobased multi-layer barrier films for fibre-based packaging.

From biobased resources to packs
Researchers from Shinshu University have developed a method to obtain fibres from mushrooms without damaging their structure. This process, involving sunlight bleaching and ultrasonic treatment, produces versatile fibres suitable for various packaging applications. The study (abstract) is published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.
A study from South Dakota State University describes the production of transparent, strong, and biodegradable films derived from switchgrass, which is a renewable source. The material was extracted, filtrated, bleached, washed and dried and resulted in a white residue that was then used to create the films. The research (abstract) is published in Resources, Conservation and Recycling.

From plastic waste to packs
Several recent studies have focused on novel plastic waste degradation technologies to obtain new chemicals that can be used in the packaging industry. Scientists at King’s College London have developed a method to recycle PLA bioplastics used in disposable items, with enzymes. The enzymes, typically found in biological laundry detergents, break the plastics down within 24 hours into monomers which can be turned into the same quality plastics for multiple use. The study (1.97 MB) is published in Cell Reports Physical Science. Another study by KAIST, published in Nature Microbiology (abstract) describes microorganism-based technologies that enable the production of bioplastics from renewable resources and the decomposition of waste plastics. In addition, a University of Adelaide research team has upcycled polyethylene waste into ethylene and propoinic acid using a room-temperature photocatalysis method. The waste-to-value strategy is implemented with waste plastic, water, sunlight and non-toxic catalysts. The valuable products formed can be converted for commercial uses such as chemical manufacturing and packaging. The study (1.21 MB) is published in Science Advances.

Professorship circular plastics
Recently, the inauguration of Vincent Voet, lector Circular Plastics, took place at NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences (in Dutch). You can download his position paper People. Planet. Polymer. A world to win (in Dutch, 1.05 MB).

NVC members receive this information with all the relevant links in the monthly NVC Members-only Update. If you have any questions, please contact us:, +31-(0)182-512411