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Issue 06/2016

  • Text
  • Bioplastics
  • Packaging
  • Biobased
  • Products
  • Materials
  • Plastics
  • Biodegradable
  • Films
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Films/Flexibles/Bags Edible food packaging made from milk proteins At grocery stores, most foods — meat, bread, cheese, snacks — come wrapped in plastic packaging. Not only does this create a lot of non-recyclable, nonbiodegradable waste, but too thin plastic films are sometimes not sufficient to prevent spoilage. And some plastics are suspected of leaching potentially harmful compounds into food. To address these issues, scientists are now developing a packaging film made of milk proteins — and it is even edible. Researchers of the Agricultural Research Center (ARS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) presented their work on August 21 st at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society. The meeting featured more than 9,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics. “The protein-based films are powerful oxygen blockers that help prevent food spoilage. When used in packaging, they could prevent food waste during distribution along the food chain,” says research leader Peggy Tomasula. And spoiled food is just one issue. Current food packaging is mainly made of petroleum-based, non-sustainable plastic. It also does not biodegrade, creating tons of plastic waste that — in many countries — sits in landfills for years. To create an all-around better packaging solution, Tomasula and colleagues at the USDA are developing an environmentally friendly film made of the milk protein casein. These casein-based films exhibit a significantly better oxygen barrier than many conventional plastics used for packaging purposes. And, because they are derived from milk and processed in a special way these films are biodegradable, sustainable and edible. Some commercially available edible packaging varieties are already on the market, but these are made of starch, which is more porous and show a higher oxygen permeation through its microholes. The milk-based packaging, however, has smaller pores and can thus create a better oxygen barrier. Although the researchers’ first attempt using pure casein resulted in a strong and effective oxygen blocker, it was relatively hard to handle and would dissolve in water too quickly. They made some improvements by incorporating citrus pectin into the blend to make the packaging even stronger, as well as more resistant to humidity and high temperatures. After a few additional improvements, this casein-based packaging looks similar to conventional commercially available plastic wrap, but it is less stretchy and is better at blocking oxygen. The material is edible and made almost entirely of proteins. Nutritious additives such as vitamins, probiotics and nutraceuticals could be included in the future. It does not have much taste, the researchers say, but flavorings could be added. “The coatings applications for this product are endless,” says Laetitia Bonnaillie, co-leader of the study. “We are currently testing applications such as single-serve, edible 18 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/16] Vol. 11

Films/Flexibles/Bags food wrappers. For instance, individually wrapped cheese sticks use a large proportion of plastic — we would like to fix that.” Because single-serve pouches would need to stay sanitary, they would have to be encased in a larger plastic or cardboard container for sale on store shelves to prevent them from getting wet or dirty. Info: Videoclip: In addition to being used as plastic pouches and wraps, the new casein coating could be sprayed onto food, such as cereal flakes or bars. Right now, cereals keep their crunch in milk due to a sugar coating. Instead of all that sugar, manufacturers could spray on casein-protein coatings to prevent soggy cereal. The spray also could line pizza or other food boxes to keep the grease from staining the packaging, or to serve as a lamination step for paper or cardboard food boxes or plastic pouches. The FDA (US Food & Drug Administration) recently banned the perfluorinated substances that used to coat these containers, so casein coatings could be a safe, biodegradable alternative. Bonnaillie says her group is currently creating prototype film samples for a small company in Texas, and the development has garnered interest among other companies, too. The group plans to keep making improvements, and she predicts this casein packaging will be on store shelves within 3 years. The researchers acknowledge funding from the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. MT All pictures: Screenshots from the video (see link) courtesy American Chemical Society ACS. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WORLDWIDE BIOECONOMY Focus: ++ Bio-based Building Blocks & Platform Chemicals ++ Oleochemistry ++ Innovation Award ++ Start-ups ++ The 10 th International Conference on Bio-based Materials is aimed at providing international major players from the bio-based building blocks, polymers and industrial biotechnology industries with an opportunity to present and discuss their latest developments and strategies. The conference builds on successful previous conferences: 300 participants and 30 exhibitors mainly from industry are expected. Organiser Venue & Accomodation Maternushaus, Cologne, Germany Kardinal-Frings-Str. 1–3, 50668 Cologne +49 (0)221 163 10, Book now at 10% reduction – enter the allowance code bpm10 during your booking process Contact Dominik Vogt Conference Manager +49 (0)2233 4814-49 Call for papers is open! Start-ups are also invited to apply for the exciting Start-up Session. bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/16] Vol. 11 19

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