Materials and technologies – May 2020

29 May 2020

Packaging made from spent coffee grounds, prawn shells and discarded fruit
EurekAlert! reports on Yokohama National University research that has found that spent coffee grounds show promise as a wood substitute in producing cellulose nanofibers. These nanofibers are the building blocks for plastic resins that can be made into biodegradable plastic products. An article (abstract) about the research is published in Cellulose.
Scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed an environmentally-friendly way to create chitin, by using two forms of food waste – prawn shells and discarded fruit – and fermenting them. By leaving chitin to undergo further stages of fermentation the NTU research team also found they could ferment it further into chitosan. The NTU team is now exploring ways to use chitosan to enhance previous research innovations such as food packaging created using soybean residue. This could potentially lead to the development of a more durable cellulose film with anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties. An article (1.54 MB) about the research is published in AMB Express.

AU Guideline - Considerations for Compostable Plastic Packaging
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has published a new guideline (1.76 MB) to help businesses make informed choices when considering the use of compostable packaging.

Prolonging the shelf life of foods
Over the past couple of years, EU project YPACK (325 kB) has developed a very thin “bio-paper” made from PHBV produced from the industry by-products cheese whey and micro-cellulose from almond shells. Latest results show that incorporating zinc oxide and oregano essential oil into the bio-papers could allow this packaging to prolong the shelf life of foods. Click here for more information about YPACK.
Researchers at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research WUR (103 kB) have developed a new packaging film that adapts to changing temperatures. Fruit and vegetables packed in it stay fresh for longer.

Time-temperature indicators inspired by biomimicry of butterfly wings
Scientists at the University of Surrey have taken inspiration from the biomimicry of butterfly wings and peacock feathers to develop an innovative opal-like material that could be the cornerstone of next generation smart sensors. One of the possible applications is Time Temperature Indicators (TTI) for intelligent packaging. An article (3.14 MB) about the research is published in Advanced Functional Materials.

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.
Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) reports that the EU plastics recycling industry is closing production due to the current market developments caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The major problems are the lack of the demand due to the closure of converting plants and the record low prices of virgin plastics as well as the decreased activity globally.

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