Bioplastic packaging to increase shelf-life of food
Our food industry has evolved over the centuries and the commitment of professionals to advancing the science of food, ensuring a safe and abundant food supply is integral to that evolution. Today the demand for packaged foods across various countries is on the rise.
For decades, manufacturers have used petrochemical plastics to package food since they have properties of good properties for protection against oxygen, aroma, tensile strength, and tear strength. But these plastics have one severe damaging component that has been overlooked – they are completely non-degradable and cause environmental pollution.
The consumers, on the other hand, waste almost a third of all food produced on the planet (estimated by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN). This isn’t simply just an economic or ethical problem, but also causes major environmental damage due to greenhouse gas emissions.
In recent years, the development of novel food packaging methods and techniques has not only increased the shelf life of foods, but also improved the safety and quality. Projects have been launched with the aim of developing plant-based bioplastic packaging that extends the shelf life of foods and contains a sensor that notifies retailers and consumers when the food inside is really no longer fit to eat. Nanoparticle components have been added to the biopolymers to provide the packaging with improved food preservation properties. The most familiar bioplastics are made from natural materials such as corn starch.
Unlike traditional plastics, bioplastics generally do not produce an increase in carbon dioxide gas when they break down (because the plants that were used to make them absorbed the same amount of carbon dioxide to begin with). Another good thing about bioplastics is that they decay into natural materials that blend harmlessly with soil. The benefits for consumers are that they can make safe and informed use of foods. Also, consumers can consider shelf-life information when purchasing foods to avoid unnecessary food waste.