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Bioplastic: What is Bioplastic? Application Of Bioplastics For Food Packaging

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Food packaging as a vital part of the subject of food technology is involved with protection and preservation of all types of foods. Food packaging is becoming increasingly important in thefood industry, where advances in functionality such as con-venience and portioning are gaining more attention.

Due to economical abundance, petrochemical plastics have been largely used as packaging material due to their desirable properties of good barrier properties towards O2, aroma compounds, tensile strength and tear strength. Furthermore, there is also an increased awareness on sustainability, which can in general be achieved on different levels. On the level of raw materials, use of recycled materials or use of renewable resources are two strategies to reduce CO2 emissions and the dependency on fossil re-sources. The production process is another level where adjustments, e.g. toward more energy-efficient process, can be made. A final level where efforts can be done to increase sustainability is waste management. Next to reuse and recycling of used materials, production of packaging which is biodegradable and/or compostable contributes to reducing the municipal solid waste problem. Biodegradable polymers are polymers that are capable of undergoing decomposition into CO2, CH4, H2O, inorganic compounds or biomass through predominantly the enzymatic action of microorganisms. Some of these polymers can also be compostable, which means decomposition takes place in a compost site at a rate consistent with known compostable materials. Among the widely used bio-based plastics, PLA is widely used. Moreover, the bioplastics nowadays have found applications for both short-shelf life products like fresh fruits and vegetables and long-shelf life products, like potato chips and pasta.

Current applications of bioplastics

Packaging application Biopolymer Company
PLA
Coffee and tea Cardboard cups coated with PLA KLM
Beverages PLA Cups Mosburger (Japan)
Fresh salads PLA Bowls McDonald’s
Fresh cut fruits and vegetables Rigid PLA trays and packs Asda (retailer)
Potato chips PLA Bags PepsiCo’s Frito-lay
Yoghurt PLA Jars Stonyfield (Danone)
Bread Paper bags with PLA window Delhaize (retailer)
Starch based
Milk chocolates Cornstarch trays Cadbury Schwepps
Organic tomatoes Corn-based packaging Iper supermarkets (Italy) Coop Italia
Cellulose
Kiwi Bio-based trays wrapped with cellulose film Wal-Mart
Potato chips Metalized cellulose film Boulder Canyon
Sweets Metalized cellulose film Qualitystreet, Thomton
Organic pasta Cellulose-based packaging

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Disadvantages of bioplastics

Besides the uneconomic feasibility of bioplastics in contrast to traditional packaging there are certain other disadvantages that limit their use in the present time. The use of land for the production of bioplastics is a major hurdle in the success of bioplastic functionality. Properties of certain bioplastics like thermal instability, difficult heat saleability, brittleness, low melt strength, high water vapour and oxygen permeability of PLA limit their use as films in food packaging applications. The above mentioned drawbacks have opened gate way of research for improving the functionality of bioplastics.

What Is Bioplastic: A Review And Usage Ares Of Bioplastic & Technical Details

Moldable plastic material made up of chemical compounds that are derived from or synthesized by microbes such as bacteria or by genetically modified plants. Unlike traditional plastics, which are derived from petroleum, bioplastics are obtained from renewable resources, and they are biodegradable.

Plastics are polymers—assemblies of identical chemical subunits, called monomers,that are linked together in the form of a chain. The properties of a plastic, like thoseof all polymers, are defined by the monomers in the chain and by the number of linksand cross-links in its structure. Cross-linking of the monomers increases a polymer'srigidity and thermal stability. As their name suggests, plastics can readily be moldedinto various shapes. Plastics such as polystyrene (polymerized styrene, CH2=CHC6H5), polyethylene (polymerized ethylene, CH2=CH2), or polypropylene (polymerized propylene, CH2=CHCH3) are molded into a wide variety of everyday and specializedproducts—for instance, eating utensils, coffee cups, synthetic fabrics, park benches,automobile parts, and surgical implants.

Plastics are polymers—assemblies of identical chemical subunits, called monomers,that are linked together in the form of a chain. The properties of a plastic, like thoseof all polymers, are defined by the monomers in the chain and by the number of linksand cross-links in its structure. Cross-linking of the monomers increases a polymer'srigidity and thermal stability. As their name suggests, plastics can readily be moldedinto various shapes. Plastics such as polystyrene (polymerized styrene, CH2=CHC6H5), polyethylene (polymerized ethylene, CH2=CH2), or polypropylene (polymerized propylene, CH2=CHCH3) are molded into a wide variety of everyday and specializedproducts—for instance, eating utensils, coffee cups, synthetic fabrics, park benches,automobile parts, and surgical implants.

The first known bioplastic, polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), was discovered in 1926 by a French researcher, Maurice Lemoigne, from his work with the bacterium Bacillus megaterium. The significance of Lemoigne's discovery was overlooked for many decades, in large part because, at the time, petroleum was inexpensive and abundant. The petroleum crisis of the mid-1970s brought renewed interest in finding alternatives to petroleum-based products. The rise of molecular genetics and recombinant DNA technology after that time further spurred research, so that by the beginning of the 21st century the structures, methods of production, and applicationsfor numerous types of bioplastics had become established. Bioplastics that were either in use or under study included PHB and polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), both of which are synthesized within specialized microbes, as well as polylactic acid (PLA), which is polymerized from lactic acid monomers produced by microbial fermentation of plant-derived sugars and starches. Degradation of the chemical links between the monomers in these plastics is brought about by microorganisms or by water, making bioplastics highly desirable materials for fabrication into biodegradable bottles and packaging film. In addition, because the degradation products are natural metabolites, the polymers are of interest in medical applications, such as controlled-release drug packaging and absorbable surgical sutures.

Bioplastics currently make up an insignificant portion of total world production of plastics. Commercial manufacturing processes are plagued by low yields and are expensive. However, improvements in metabolic and genetic engineering have produced strains of microbes and plants that may significantly improve yields and production capabilities while reducing overall costs. These factors, when added to increasing oil prices and growing environmental awareness, may expand the market for bioplastics in the future.

 

 

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 17 April 2019 11:17

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