In an attempt to replace polluting plastic materials and improve storage, safety and shelf life, University of Nottingham researchers have developed 100 percent biodegradable and edible food packaging made from plant carbohydrates and proteins.
The Sino-UK project is led by Professor Saffa Riffat from the Faculty of Engineering, whose research group is world-renown for innovations in sustainable materials, energy and building technologies.
This includes their investigations into the structure and functionality of sustainable natural materials such as plant polysaccharides (carbohydrates) and proteins to develop advanced materials for applications in buildings, energy technologies, packaging and beyond.
The researchers have found that plant carbohydrate and protein macromolecules bond together into a special network structure during the film-forming process. The network structure provides the film with a required mechanical strength and transparent appearance for the film to be used as packaging materials.
According to phys.org, the primary market for these plant-based packaging materials will be superstores and food supply chains. The research team is also aiming to advance the technology for general packaging in construction, express delivery and magazines, etc.