Materials and technologies – June 2023

04 July 2023

Recent reviews on innovations in food packaging
Researchers from Yeungnam University have reviewed the current situation of protein-based films for food packaging applications. The polymers show unique physical and chemical features and can be functionalised with various additives and fillers. These fillers successfully delay microbial growth to assure food safety and extend shelf-life. The study (2.69 MB) is published in Polymer Testing.
Jalandhar-Delhi University scientists studied various types of biopolymers, like PLA and BioPE, and their application as packaging materials. The study highlights the origins of the polymers and how they can be applied in different types of food packaging. The review (897 kB) is published in Pharma Innovation.
A literature review (6.45 MB) published in Packaging Technology and Science discusses innovations in space food packaging for the future, as the current food system will not last past 18 months due to the unique environment. The researchers from the University of Georgia found that packaging materials made of aluminium oxide-coated plastics, bacterial fungi and with the technology 3D printing had the most potential for improving the sector.

Waste to polymers
The new ELLIPSE project, coordinated by AIMPLAS, aims to valorise slaughterhouse waste and paper and pulp sludge to produce polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) for agricultural and personal care packaging applications. By integrating these waste streams as feedstocks, the project aims to reduce landfill waste and create additional revenue for the industries generating the waste. With a consortium of 13 partners, the project plans to impact the European bioeconomy by valorising 20,000 tons of slaughterhouse waste and 50,000 tons of paper sludge annually.
In a recent press release, the nova-Institute gives a elaborate summary of a new report on the utilisation of CO2 for new materials, such as polymers. The captured CO2 can be converted to polyethylene through a biotechnological pathway, and a biodegradable polymer, PHA, can be produced via gas fermentation. Additionally, CO2 can be converted into ethylene, a raw material for PE and PET, via electrochemical pathways.
University of Milan researchers examined the application of banana peel waste to serve as a thermoplastic film. The films were observed to effectively extend shelf life and have advantageous mechanical properties. The study (7.25 MB) is published in Carbohydrate Polymer Technologies and Applications.

Project on bioplastics development
The RUBIO project, involving 18 partners, aims to create a sustainable plastics industry by utilising regionally available plant residues to develop recyclable and biodegradable bioplastics. The project aims to overcome challenges in bioplastics adoption, such as limited availability, higher costs, technical improvements, and concerns about using food sources for bioplastic production. As part of the project, Fraunhofer IAP researchers have developed new types of polybutylene succinate (PBS) bioplastic that can be used for packaging applications.

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