A researcher from the Deakin CASS Food Research Center, Australia, uses native essential oils to develop a prototype for antimicrobial food packaging that could help extend product life and reduce food waste and illness. In the study, they use the native Australian essential oils Tasmanian mountain pepper and lemon myrtle, for sustainability reasons and due to the growing demand for natural products. It turns out that the essential oils activity is better than tea tree oil, which has historically been used extensively as an antimicrobial. They also stumbled upon the fact that not only are these oils antimicrobial in the liquid phase, but their volatiles, or gases they release, are equally as effective. Next, encapsulated essential oils will be integrated into biodegradable plastic formulations to produce packaging that will release the essential oils, killing or inhibiting the bacteria and fungi growing on food and extending product shelf life.
Extending the shelf life of produce is a noteworthy development that could have significant implications for costs and supply options.
This has opportunities for produce for Food sector products.
At a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), it was announced that dead flies could be used to make biodegradable plastic. Insect carcasses are an abundant source of chitin, the biopolymer that strengthens the exoskeletons of crustaceans and insects. It has been suggested that waste product left over from farming black soldier flies could be a source of chitin as it has no other competing uses, such as food. The larvae of the flies contain proteins and other nutritious compounds so they are being raised for animal feed, and they also break down waste so they are being bred for that, too. However, adult flies are less useful and are discarded after their short life span. Flies seem to have advantages over other animals that supply chitin, such as crabs or shrimps, as it seems to be purer while eliminating any issues with shellfish allergies. See also: Lobster shell waste used to form biodegradable bioplastic.
This is an interesting and potentially headline-grabbing development with a source that can be farmed quickly and inexpensively.
This could have applications for Industrial and Consumer Goods products.
Finnish packaging manufacturer Walki has announced the launch of what it says is a new, easy-open pouch concept for the snack segment. The pouch is constructed with a laminate of an MDO-PE (Machine Direction Oriented) film and a newly developed LDPE-based film. The pouch features a laser perforation along the centre of the side gusset fold of the bag, which is the starting point for the opening. By weakening the laminate in a controlled way, the material is thin enough to allow for a controlled pouch opening but still thick enough to protect the snack inside. The consumer opens the pouch in the centre, and the opening starts to tear in both directions until it reaches the cross seams that are transverse to make the pouch stable. As it is a mono material, this makes it easy to recycle. The pouch was developed closely with Fernwald, Germany-based packaging machine producer Rovema.
This innovation improves the consumer opening experience, but it’s unclear how much of a noticeable difference the pack will make.
This innovation has applications mainly for Food products.
Researchers at Switzerland’s Empa Research Institute have developed what they say are bio-based and inexpensive 3D-printed sensors that change colour to indicate whether something has become too warm or has been subjected to too much stress. The technology involved in the development is a substance known as hydroxypropyl cellulose (HPC), which is already utilised as a carrier for active ingredients in things like pharmaceuticals and foods. HPC forms liquid crystals when mixed with water. Thanks to the microstructure of those crystals, they only reflect certain wavelengths of the visible light spectrum, causing them to appear as those colours when viewed by the human eye. The same principle is naturally utilised by vividly coloured butterfly wings, among other things. The scientists have so far utilised the technology to produce a seven-segment numeric display and a strain sensor that changes colour in response to a piezoelectric (the process of using crystals to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy) current generated by mechanical deformation.
This is another very interesting development in the world of colour-changing smart sensors.
This innovation has potential for the Food sector.
Researchers from the University of California, Riverside and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have produced an alternative to more expensive electronic tags that record any changes in temperature which occur during the shipping and storage of perishable items. These can also become yet another form of electronic waste. The researchers developed glycerol-coated silicon dioxide nanoparticles, which get mixed into a solution of water and polyethylene glycol or ethylene glycol. The particles cluster together to form microcrystals in the liquid, and remain in that form once the solution has been frozen into a solid. Due to the surface structure of the crystals, they reflect light in such a way that they appear bright green or red. Upon melting, the microcrystals fall apart and no longer produce the green colour. By tweaking the water-to-glycol ratio, it’s possible to adjust the temperature at which the frozen solution melts.
This is an interesting long term development that could improve electronic temperature tracking efficiency.
This has opportunities for high value and/or time/temperature-sensitive products across the Beverage, Food, Consumer Goods, Heath & Beauty and Industrial sectors.
Fasten Packaging, a subsidiary of the Innovative Beauty Group, has introduced a refillable jar concept called The Goodloop that taps into the trend for refillable health and beauty products. It features a sleek design with an outer jar made from recycled polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Its notable features include a curved inner portion and a lightweight bayonet closure, which enables easy refilling and leak-free usage. The materials used are neither glued nor mixed, simplifying the recycling process. Additionally, it incorporates embossing and printing on different walls for branding opportunities. Fasten also has another refillable jar concept entirely composed of recycled PP. The Goodloop concept received the Gold Award at the 2023 German Innovation Awards, organized by the German Design Council.
The health & beauty industry is leading the way with these types of refillable containers.
This could have applications for products in the Health & Beauty sector.
The Trific project is a unique 48-hour travel kit for people who travel responsibly. It contains three dry products: hand soap, body soap and toothpaste that simply dissolve after use. Trific is a collaboration between four companies, three Swedish and the other German. By developing a bio-based concept, the collaboration has explored circular design, materials, dry-forming technology and end-of-line barrier solutions. The concept and system design partner is FutureLab & Partners. The wood-based raw material is supplied by Holmen Iggesund, and uses residues from the wood grown in forests to make climate-smart pulp and paperboard, the basis for the Trific packaging. Yangi used their dry-forming technology to turn the material into Trific, and German Optima Packaging Group who are evaluating different barrier options to fulfil different requirements. The end result is this circular packaging solution. The prototype was apparently developed within six months. See also: Swedish collaboration will focus on development of bio-based cosmetic packaging.
This concept looks to need more development work before any hope of a market commercialisation and would certainly be a unique and differentiated offering.
This has opportunities in the Health & Beauty sector.
Five students from the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart have developed edible packaging made from eggshells and other plant-based raw materials. Called Edggy, it was designed for ramen, and once empty the packaging can simply be dissolved in the hot water and can even be eaten as an additional protein boost. When it’s dry, the 4 x 2 centimetre bag looks like normal plastic, but just a little hot water is enough, and within seconds, nothing is left of it. Edggy took the students nine months to develop following research to find the correct formula. For this innovative idea, the five students received the prize at the EIT Food Reuse2Repack Challenge and prize money of EUR 1,200. The team acknowledge that the film can and needs to be improved, and they are considering taking it further via a startup. See also: Researchers investigate egg-based coating to extend shelf life of fruit and vegetables.
This is an interesting concept but needs much more development work to establish if it can ever be commercially viable.
This has opportunities for produce for Food products.
Tokyo-based design agency Nendo has designed what they call the ‘foam-can’. In Japan, a head on beer is considered essential for making it taste better as it acts as a lid to prevent beer from coming into contact with the air, and keeps it from releasing aroma, flavour, and carbonation. The foam-can was designed with two pull tabs, where there is usually just one, of course. Slightly different distances between each pull tab and the lid change the degree of opening. When the can is opened by the first tab, the lid opens a little to create more foam. Once the glass is about half full of bubbles, stop pouring and wait for the bubbles to settle. Then open the second tab, which opens the lid to the fullest, and gently pour the rest under the foam. In this way, a glass with a liquid-foam ratio of 7:3, is produced, the so-called golden ratio.
There could be opportunities for this innovation for Beverage products..
A scientist from the William Marsh Rice University in Texas has won the National Science Foundation award to develop a sustainable, low-cost, egg-based coating to extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. The scientist, who is an Assistant Research Professor in materials science and nanoengineering, said that the goal of the project was to develop an eco-friendly, biodegradable, protein-based nanocomposite coating that could be applied to the surface of a variety of shaped fruits and vegetables. It is hoped that the coating will extend shelf life by reducing spoilage, dehydration and microbial growth rates. The project hopes to address food preservation as well as waste management challenges that could help improve access to fresh produce in food deserts, ie, areas with poor access to healthy and affordable foods. See also: Bio-based spray-on coating triples fresh produce shelf life.
Extending the shelf life of fruit is an important development that could have significant implications for costs and supply options. The Innovation Zone has tracked several examples like this in recent times. This development is the first time we have reported on an egg-based coating that appears to be many tears away from commercialisation.
This has opportunities for produce for Food products.