Scientists have developed a biodegradable, plant-based coating that may be sprayed on meals as a substitute for plastic packaging. Meals-safe antimicrobial spray makes use of starch-based fibers to guard meals from spoilage and stop harm throughout transport.
The discovering got here from researchers at Harvard College and Rutgers College who had been on the lookout for extra sustainable methods to maintain meals recent. The scientists stated the coating might cut back the environmental influence brought on by meals packaging.
“We knew we would have liked to eliminate the present petroleum-based meals packaging and substitute it with one thing extra sustainable, biodegradable and non-toxic,” stated Philip Demokritou, director of the Heart for Nanoscience and Superior Supplies Analysis, and the Henry Rutgers Endowed Chair in Environmental Nanoscience and Bioengineering on the Rutgers College of Public Well being and the Institute of Occupational and Environmental Well being Sciences. “And on the identical time we requested ourselves: ‘Can we design meals packaging with performance that extends shelf life and reduces meals waste whereas bettering meals security?’
“And what we’ve discovered is a scalable expertise, which permits us to transform biopolymers, which may be derived as a part of a round economic system from meals waste, into sensible fibers that may be wrapped straight in meals. That is a part of the brand new era of ‘sensible’ and ‘inexperienced’ meals packaging.”
The examine describing meals coating was printed in Pure meals. The coating itself is made from polysaccharide/biopolymer-based fibers and is spun in a machine just like a hair dryer that wraps meals. The analysis confirmed that meals lined with the fabric, which integrates pure antimicrobial substances corresponding to thyme oil, citric acid and nisin, had been capable of keep recent for at the least 50% longer than uncovered meals.
The coating may be faraway from meals with water and breaks down in soil inside three days.
“I’m not in opposition to plastics,” stated Demokritou. “I’m in opposition to petroleum-based plastics that we proceed to throw away as a result of solely a small a part of them may be recycled.
“Over the past 50 to 60 years, in the course of the Plastic Age, we’ve deposited 6 billion metric tons of plastic waste in our surroundings. They’re on the market slowly degrading. And these little bits grow to be the water we drink, the meals we eat, and the air we breathe.”