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EghtesadOnline: Exploiting nanocellulose materials, researchers at Shiraz University have been working toward the enhancement of food packaging.

In a bid to find a replacement for the non-biodegradable plastic packages—the most used material in the food packaging industry, several experiments have been conducted on natural polymers to render them more efficient for use in the industry, reported Mehr News Agency, citing Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council.

“Natural polymers typically have weaker packaging properties than those of synthetic ones; however, this hindering factor can be removed by using nano-scale additives such as nanocellulose and clay nanoparticles, boosting the strength of materials,” said Mohammad Mehdi Zerafat, assistant professor at Shiraz University’s school of advanced technologies and a researcher involved in the program.

Zerafat stated that through experiments, the impact of adding nanocellulose and chitosan (a biodegradable material ranked as the most abundant after cellulose) to films containing starch and gelatin was examined, according to Financial Tribune. 

The given packaging material will be a suitable substitute for typical plastic bags and cans, helping environmental conservation, alongside yielding more favorable results in preservation of food products.

Commenting on the prospects for commercialization, Zerafat noted, “The products have been tested in advanced labs, and studies have been carried out to start a trial production. In case it reaches the industrial scale, final costs can be reduced drastically.”

 Looming Biohazard

Numerous reasons lie behind the lead role given to plastic in food packaging industry. The non-degradable substance effectively manages to prevent decay in food products and is offered at very low prices. This is while few are informed about the biohazards it poses.

“From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, and littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of our planet,” wrote Earth Day Network, an organization striving for conservation of the planet.

Environmentalists worldwide are calling on authorities to take immediate measures regarding the issue. Charging customers for the currently gratuitous plastic bags, rewarding users of eco-friendly alternatives and spreading information about plastic’s detrimental impacts are some of the ideas put forward for dealing with the challenge.

Earth Day 2018 was celebrated on April 22, themed “End Plastic Pollution.”

 

Shiraz University Iran Food Packaging Industry Iran Food Packaging Nanotech nanocellulose materials