Materials and technologies – November 2023
Utilising nanoparticles for the packaging industry
In a project conducted at NCU in Toruń, researchers utilised green synthesis to produce silver nanoparticles, which have applications across various industries. These nanoparticles exhibit high antimicrobial activity, making them valuable for creating films with beneficial properties. For instance, in the food industry, these nanoparticles combat pathogens such as salmonella, thereby extending the shelf life of food. The study (4.24 MB) is published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.
There are numerous other studies on the use of nanoparticles in the packaging industry to enhance antimicrobial activity. For example, a Tanta University study (1.50 MB), published in Polymer Testing, involving synthesis of silver and selenium nanoparticles to create nanocomposite films. In another study (2.41 MB) published in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, University of Milan researchers fabricated a starch-based nanoparticle-infused packaging film. Furthermore, in a Isfahan University of Technology study (1.38 MB) published in the journal of Food Measurement and Characterisation, UV-blocking active packaging films were created by using an oxidised nanocellulose film.
From fish waste to biopolymers
National University of Colombia (in Spanish) researchers are advancing in the development of biopolymers like PHA. With bacteria, they transform nutrients, obtained from discarded fish waste, e.g., guts and scales, into PHA at 30oC. Due to the low temperature range, the process is favourable at industrial scale in regards to the energy costs.
AIMPLAS is developing barrier coatings for food and cosmetic packaging from fish gelatine and fishing nets. This EcoeFISHent project aims to promote a circular economy in the fish industry by extracting bioactive compounds from fish side-streams. The initiative also focuses on recycling fishing nets and creating high-value products while protecting the marine environment. It involves 34 partners from 7 countries and is funded by the EU's Horizon 2020 program.
Developments in pack recycling
Polymer scientists from Colorado State University have developed a method for creating and deconstructing polymers to produce more easily recyclable plastics. They developed polymers that mimic polyolefins, one of the most common types of plastics. Their innovative approach involved connecting two different polymers together multiple times to create a multiblock polymer that can be chemically recycled. The method has the potential to reduce the variety of plastics used in products and make plastic recycling more efficient. The research article (819 kB) is published in Science.
Alternative technology for rigid plastic packs
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has achieved groundbreaking results in a pilot-scale study, utilising foam forming technology to create highly extensible cellulose-based webs with up to 30% extensibility for rigid packaging. This innovation enables the production of sustainable 3D packaging solutions, offering an alternative to traditional plastics and aligning with the EU SUP regulation. The technology allows for integration into existing packaging lines, making it affordable and easy for brands to adopt the product as a sustainable alternative to plastic packs.