Unwrapping lignin and starch alternative to plastic food packaging
Plastic and paper-based food packaging needs a coating to prevent water or oxygen from penetrating the cover and spoiling the foodstuff inside. This is usually manufactured from petroleum-based plastic, but there may be an alternative in the works.
Dr Asif Javed, a chemical engineer at Karlstad University, may have found a greener solution to plastic packaging.
"In my research, we used a mixture of starch and lignin to create a protective barrier that is up to scratch," Dr Javed said.
"If new materials are to be used, they have to be at least as good as or better than petroleum-based material - regarding extending the shelf life of food, as well as the cost and effectiveness of manufacture and transport.
"I have also worked with biodegradable mixtures of starch and some petroleum-based macromolecules. Although such material is not 100 per cent based on renewable resources, it has the important advantage of naturally degrading without leaving behind dangerous microplastics, should it end up in forests, lakes or oceans."