Biodegradable, Plant-Based Covering That May Be Sprinkled on Meals Has Been Created by Scientists

Food waste and safety are driving forces behind the need for better food packaging.

Existing films / coatings that address these issues, on the other hand, are usually plagued by poor release dynamics that demand large amounts of active substances.

A Rutgers scientist has designed a biodegradable, plant-based covering that can be sprayed on foods to protect them from pathogenic and spoilage microbes as well as harm transportation, intending to develop an economically friendly substitute for plastic food wrap and containers.

New Packaging Technology: Antimicrobial Pullulan Fibers

(Photo: Anthony Devlin / Getty Images)

“We knew we needed to replace petroleum-based food packaging with something more sustainable, biodegradable, and nontoxic,” according to Philip Demokritou, the director of the Nanoscience and Advanced Materials Research Center and Henry Rutgers Chair in Nanoscience and Environmental Bioengineering, as per ScienceDaily.

Experts asked themselves if they are able to create a food pacakaging that doesn’t just increase shelf life, but also reduces waste and maintain food safety.

“And what we’ve come up with is a sustainable technique that allows us to turn biodegradable polymers, which can be created from food waste into a bioeconomy, into smart fiber that can wrap an actual food,” Demokritou said.

This one is part of a new generation of food packaging that is smart and green.

The Harvard-Nanyang Technological University / Singapore Sustainable Nanotechnology Initiative funded the research, which was done in collaboration with Harvard University experts.

Their paper was published in the journal Nature Food, which represents a new type of packaging that uses polysaccharide / biopolymer-based fibers.

The threadlike material can be formed from a heat source that resembles a hair dryer and shrink-wrapped over items of various sizes and shapes that is similar to the webs of one of the famous Marvel comic book characters Spider-Man.

The resulting material, which protects food from damage and contains antimicrobial properties to prevent spoiling and dangerous germs like E. coliis used to encapsulate food goods.

The study contained the description of the centered rotary jet spinning method used to create the biopolymer, as well as numerical results showing that the coating increased avocado storage time by 50%.

Better, Greener Food Packaging

According to the study, the coating may be washed off with water and dissolves in the soil after three days.

The new packaging seeks to solve a critical ecological crisis: the waste stream’s expansion of petroleum-based disposable products.

Actions to minimize plastic consumption, such as regulations in states like in the country of New Jersey prohibiting selling shopping bags out of plastics at grocery shops, can assist, according to Demokritou. He desired to do some more, though.

Democritus stated that he is not against plastics. He is against using petroleum-based plastics because only a small percentage of them can be recycled.

During the Era of Plastic, they have dumped 6 billion metric tons of plastic waste into the environment during the last 50 to 60 years.

They’re out there slowly decaying, and these microscopic fragments are making their way into our drinking water, food, and air.

The new fibers wrapping the food are loaded with naturally occurring antibacterial substances such as thyme oil, citric acid, and nisin-commonly used as food preservatives, according to the paper.

The Demokritou research group can construct such advanced materials to operate as sensors, activating and eliminating strains of bacteria to ensure that food arrives freely from contamination.

Democritus also believed that this will solve the growing worry about food-borne infections while also reducing food loss.

Also Read: Coca Cola Japan Wants to Know if “Filling Your Own Bottles” Will Reduce Plastic Waste

Solution of APF to the plastic problem

It is well recognized how serious the plastic waste situation is: there is much more plastic in the oceans than marine life, and plastic is now entering our bodies in the condition of microparticles (microplastics), creating a variety of health problems, as per Interesting Engineering.

Furthermore, one of the sources of harmful bacteria and chemical poisoning in our foods is plastic wrapping.

Food pathogens, according to experts, 600 million people experience food-borne diseases every year.

According to a survey from the UK’s Waste and Resource Action Program (WRAP), plastic wrapping causes more food waste and shortens the shelf life of fruits and vegetables.

In addition to the survey, 100,000 tons of consumables are discarded each year, with plastic wrapping reaching up to 10,300 tons.

The APFs have already absently eliminated the environmental damage that plastic food wrappers are causing.

They want to locate investors for a start-up enterprise on it (APF food packaging) and other food safety inventions, Professor Demokritou noted when questioned about their ambitions to scale up the use of APFs.

Related Article: Using Plastic-Eating ‘Super-microorganisms’ to Reduce Plastic Waste

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