Materials and technologies – May 2024

04 June 2024

Realtime freshness monitoring
A scientist from Auburn University has developed a gas-sensing sticker for meat packaging that changes colour to indicate freshness, aiming to reduce food spoilage and waste. The solution is scalable, affordable and easily manufactured by adapting existing machinery.

Packaging end-of-life - Microplastics and composting
Research led by the University of Leicester has found that brightly coloured plastics (red, blue, green) degrade faster into microplastics than plainer colours (black, white, silver). This discovery suggests that packaging design should consider colour choices. The study (5.83 MB) is published in Environmental Pollution.
The Composting Consortium, an industry collaboration led by the Centre for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, tested over 23,000 units of certified compostable packaging and found that their samples, encompassing fibre- and compostable plastic packaging, such as PLA, successfully break down at composting facilities. Findings highlight the viability of using single-use compostable packaging. The full report can be downloaded after filling in your details.

Paper production from unconventional feedstock - Grass and coconut husks
WUR researchers are converting verge and nature area grass into paper and cardboard, boosting the local economy and reducing the need for wood pulp and transport. The research is part of the GO-GRASS EU project, funded by the Horizon 2020 programme, and aims to develop grass-based circular business models for rural areas.
Woodfree Ltd, collaborating with Bangor University's Biocomposites Centre, is transforming coconut husks into 'Eco-Pulp,' a low-cost feedstock for paper and packaging. Funded by the UK Transformative Technologies grant, this project is now at the stage of producing prototype packaging and is assessing their practical characteristics, such as strength and durability.

Utilising biobased sources to create polymers
RISE and Apple have jointly developed a recyclable, bio-based cellulose foam with properties similar to fossil-based polymer foams in packaging. A white paper can be downloaded after filling in your details.
Kobe University engineers have developed bacteria to produce LAHB, a bioplastic modifier, enhancing PLA’s processability, toughness, and biodegradability. The new plastic biodegrades in seawater within a week and could be synthesised from CO2. The study (3.89 MB) is published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.
Researchers at FAMU-FSU College of Engineering have developed a degradable plastic from CO2 and lignin, a byproduct of paper manufacturing. This polymer can be reduced to pure monomers again, key for indefinite recycling. Potential applications include packaging, agriculture, textiles, and biomedical uses. The study (abstract) is published in Advanced Functional Materials.

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