April 2024

Active packaging helps extend food shelf life

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Researchers from the Brazilian Agriculture Research Corporation have devised an innovative active packaging solution, employing volatile compounds within sachets to extend food shelf life while preserving quality, safety, and sensory properties. This sustainable approach, utilising organic gases with proven antifungal activity, combats fruit rot during packing and beyond, aligning with efforts to reduce losses and waste. The technology, now available for final development and market integration, has shown success in removing persimmon astringency and is undergoing trials for post-harvest disease control in various fruits, indicating broad applicability across different produce.


There are several long-term developments to extend shelf life through active packaging, and this is another good example.


opportunityzone

This has applications for Food products.

 

 



Trial recycling method reduces plastic degradation

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Researchers at UNSW Sydney have developed a novel low-energy technique for recycling plastic, offering potential applications in Arnott’s Group’s Tim Tam biscuit packaging and beyond. This method addresses the challenge of plastic degradation during recycling, potentially enabling multiple recycling cycles for common materials like polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, and PET. With PET being extensively used in global food and beverage packaging, the ability to recycle it more efficiently is seen as being particularly promising. The technique, requiring minimal cleaning and capable of separating polymers from additives like dyes, presents a sustainable solution for producing recycled PET. Collaborating with FP Paradigm, UNSW is progressing towards commercialising this technology, specifically for PET recycling. Arnott’s Group has partnered with Paco Industries to explore the application of this technology for sustainable PET alternatives.


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This new recycling technique developed by researchers allows for more efficient and sustainable recycling of PET, which would be well received in the market.


opportunityzone

This innovation has applications for recycling Food and Beverage products.



Japanese researchers develop bioplastic for rapid seawater degradation

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A team of Japanese researchers has developed a new bioplastic that combines durability with rapid degradation in seawater, offering potential solutions to the ocean plastic waste problem. Derived from starches like sugarcane and corn, this polylactic acid-based material is detailed in a report by scientists from Kobe University and others, published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering. While polylactic acid, or polylactide, has been considered an alternative to petroleum-based plastics, its brittleness and production challenges have limited its applications. The team addressed these issues by genetically modifying a bacteria to mass-produce a more degradable variant, LAHB. This innovation aims to increase Japan’s bioplastic usage to 2 million tons by 2030, offering hope for sustainable alternatives in combating marine plastic pollution.


thepackhubs-viewThere is significant development of seaweed-based packaging at the moment, and this is another good example.

 


opportunityzone

This has applications for Food products.

 


April 2024

Algae-based plastic completely biodegrades in less than seven months

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Researchers from the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) and materials science company Algenesis have collaborated to develop a novel algae-based plastic that completely biodegrades in less than seven months, even at the microplastic level. The bio-based thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU-FC1) can be utilised for coated fabrics or injection-moulded objects. A co-founder of Algenesis notes the intention for complete biodegradability since the material’s inception about six years ago, with recent measurements confirming its disappearance even at the microparticle level in compost. Their study demonstrates the significant degradation of the algae-based plastic compared to petroleum-based counterparts, supported by respirometer tests, particle counts, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis, and scanning electron microscope images illustrating microbial colonisation during composting. While acknowledging ongoing research into microplastics’ environmental impacts, it underscores the importance of developing biodegradable alternatives to mitigate plastic pollution’s long-term effects.


thepackhubs-viewThis bio-based thermoplastic has been confirmed through various tests to degrade without leaving microplastics.


opportunityzoneThis has applications mainly for Consumer Goods and Industrial sector products.

 


April 2024

Advancing sustainable electronics with breakthrough in biodegradable paper circuits

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In a significant advancement in the field of sustainable technology, researchers from Binghamton Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science University in the USA have been pioneering research into biodegradable integrated papertronics, supported by a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. This innovative work, detailed in a recent publication in Advanced Sustainable Systems, has led to the development of fully integrated paper circuits using functional inks and hydrophobic wax to overcome the challenges posed by paper’s porous and rough nature. These circuits, which include tunable resistors, capacitors, and transistors, are not only biodegradable, lacking any harmful chemicals, but also highlight improvements in sustainability. However, it is noted that the necessity for future enhancements in packaging techniques to ensure long-term viability means exploring the incorporation of additional electronic components like inductors and displays to enhance density and performance. See also: UK startup develops chipless, metal-free paper-only version of RFID tag.


This is an interesting long-term development that could reduce the environmental impact of smart packaging.

 


opportunityzone

This has opportunities for Food sector products.

 


April 2024

Advent of 3D-printed objects from pure wood materials

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Researchers at Rice University in Houston have developed a pioneering 3D printing “ink” made entirely from wood’s natural components—cellulose nanofibres, cellulose nanocrystals, and lignin, derived from wood waste. This innovative material allows for the creation of wooden objects through a direct ink writing process, which involves a sintering phase that includes freeze-drying at -85 ºC for 48 hours followed by heating at 180 ºC for 20-30 minutes, transforming the lignin into a binder. The resultant objects are comparable to natural wood in various attributes but are mechanically stronger than balsa wood. The technique promises a reduction in wood waste during manufacturing and offers a way to repurpose wood waste, albeit the current sintering process is acknowledged as energy-intensive. The research, aiming for a sustainable approach to wood usage in manufacturing, was published in Science Advances, highlighting Rice University’s contribution to sustainable 3D printing innovations.


thepackhubs-viewThe 3D printing industry continues to expand and evolve with new ways of delivering the technology – wood-derived is a first for the Innovation Zone.

 


opportunityzone

This has opportunities for 3D printing across products.



Bio-based plastic offers strength, biodegradability, and a negative carbon footprint

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Researchers at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), in collaboration with the Dutch chemical company Avantium and toy manufacturer Lego, have developed a new bio-based plastic named PISOX, which stands out for its strength, heat resistance, and swift biodegradability, decomposing into CO2 within six months even in contact with minimal water, including moisture in the air. PISOX, a polyester made from alternating oxalic acid (derivable from CO2) and isosorbide, can also undergo complete chemical recycling to its original building blocks for the production of new polyesters. This advancement offers potential for various finite applications, including biodegradable packaging materials, reinforcing sea beds against coastal erosion, and even biodegradable coffins, challenging the conventional use of long-lasting materials for short-term applications. The development represents a significant step towards sustainable material science, leveraging CO2 in its production process, thereby presenting an opportunity for industries to achieve a negative carbon footprint while addressing plastic pollution.


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This offers a potential solution for reducing plastic production and achieving a negative carbon footprint by incorporating CO2 into its production process.


opportunityzone

This innovation has the potential for products utilising plastic.


April 2024

Advancing recycling: separating PVDC from multilayer packaging waste

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Belgium-based Syensqo and Tomra, the latter being a notable provider of sensor-based sorting solutions from Italy, have collaborated on a pioneering project to prove that multilayer packaging waste containing polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) can indeed be efficiently separated from mixed plastic waste. Through a series of experiments utilising commercial packaging waste composed of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and Syensqo’s Ixan PVDC, the initiative successfully demonstrated the technical and economic viability of isolating PVDC from polyolefins using current industrial sorting technology, achieving high selectivity rates. This breakthrough challenges prevailing industry perceptions regarding the non-sortability of multilayer PVDC films and paves the way for improved recycling of a broad spectrum of multi-layer plastic structures, significantly enhancing the potential for circularity within the plastics sector.


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This innovation challenges existing limitations around the recyclability of multilayer PVDC films. It offers new opportunities for enhancing circularity through the use of current industrial sorting technologies.


opportunityzone

This innovation could have an impact across all product sectors.


March 2024

Turning fungi into sustainable packaging solutions

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A Dutch entrepreneur has innovated in the packaging industry by founding Grown.bio, a company that produces packaging materials from mycelium, the fungal threads of mushrooms, offering a sustainable alternative to Styrofoam. Utilising moulds made from rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate), the process involves growing mycelium in combination with agricultural residues, such as hemp or straw, into the desired shape, then drying it to create a biobased packaging form. Grown.bio, which aims to replace polystyrene, currently focuses on luxury items with plans to expand into white goods packaging. The company’s production facility, poised for expansion, underlines the potential scalability of this sustainable solution. The company’s vision is supported by the material’s biodegradability and the prospect of local production using regional agricultural waste, highlighting the role of policy in fostering a market for bio-based materials by aligning the economic incentives with sustainability goals. See also: Japanese researchers create mycelium-based packaging solution.


thepackhubs-viewThis is one of several initiatives utilising mycelium-based packaging reported in the Innovation Zone.

 


opportunityzone

This innovation has opportunities for products across sectors.


March 2024

Steel coating developed to enhance food safety

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Researchers from Texas A&M University College of Engineering in the US have unveiled a novel metal coating designed to enhance food safety by significantly reducing contamination risks in food-grade packaging. The innovative two-step coating solution, applied to galvanised steel – a material chosen for its durability and cost-effectiveness over stainless steel – demonstrates a remarkable reduction in corrosion by at least 70% and possesses superhydrophobic and antifouling properties that prevent the adherence of harmful bacteria and fungi. This breakthrough, published in the Journal of Food Engineering, not only maintains the structural and mechanical integrity of steel but also promises widespread applications across food storage units, grain silos, and agricultural practices, potentially shaking up the industry by ensuring even safer food products for consumers.


thepackhubs-view

This coating achieves a notable reduction in corrosion minimizing the adhesion of harmful bacteria.


opportunityzone

This would have applications for Food products.

 


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