Biodegradable food packaging become a reality

The need to develop more environmentally friendly packaging has become more urgent over the last two decades.

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Biodegradable packaging refers to films and coatings synthesised from microbial polymers and organic materials. Created with a rugged polymer structure that is broken down by bacteria and other microbes, biodegradable materials must decompose completely within 180 days into water and CO2. Biodegradable products offer many advantages.

Types of biodegradable Packaging

Microbial Polymers

Used for packaging purposes, microbial polymers are a good substitute for synthetic polymers. Examples include:

BIOPOL: a co-polymer of hydroxybutyrate (HB) and Hydroxy-valerate (HV), obtained from Alcaligenes eutrophus, which is a soil bacteria.

Pullulan: An oxygen-permeable film at 270C, Pullulan has a high gloss and good flexibility. It is synthesised by Aureobasidium and a polymer of maltotriose.

Buy used food machinery

Companies starting out in the food packaging industry can buy used plant machinery to start with until the business starts making lots of money then invest in new ones. It’s possible to buy used food machinery and brand new equipment.

Edible Films and Coatings

Placed on top of food or formed on it, an edible film ensures that food is delivered to the consumer safe and intact. Edible films and coatings can also take the form of containers, such as pouches and bags. In addition to offering a means of safe delivery, edible coatings can enhance the mechanical integrity of the product. As the packaging is integral to the food, it must meet a number of very specific guidelines and requirements, such as:

– It must be tasteless, odourless and transparent (neutral organoleptic).
– It must be tight to water vapour (prevent desiccation).
– It must provide a barrier against microbial invasion (minimise decay and spoilage).

Edible coatings and films are formed by complex coacervation, simple coacervation, precipitation and thermal gelation. Examples include:

– Polysaccharide Films, such as starch hydrolysates, carragenan, pectin, alginates and cellulose derivatives.

– Lipid Films, such as natural waxes (bees wax, rice bran wax, candlelit wax, carnauba wax); vegetable oils (palm oil, soybean oil and corn oil) and acetylated monoglycerides.

– Protein Films, such as polypeptides and protein systems (wheat, corn, soy, milk), collagen (gelatin).

– Composite Films and Laminates, which are formed using a blend of at least two components, such as polysaccharide and protein films.