Posts

The USDA Is Working On A New Type Of Sustainable Food Packaging

USDA researchers have devised a different way to package things like meat, bread, and cheese. Instead of using plastic, they’ve developed an edible, biodegradable packaging film made of casein, a milk protein, that can be wrapped around food to prevent spoilage.

The United States produces a lot of milk, but milk consumption has been on the decline for years. So the USDA has been working to find a way to take that excess milk, usually stored in powder form, and create something usable with it. Even though the USDA has been working to create food packaging with milk products for decades; it’s only in the last few years that researchers cracked the code for making casein-based films competitive with plastic-films.

The biggest problem researchers faced with casein-based films is that casein is extremely sensitive to water . This is a serious problem for a product that is supposed to keep food sealed and dry. Adding pectin to the casein mixture created a film that, while still more sensitive to moisture than plastic, did not immediately dissolve in water or areas with humidity. The casein-based film was actually 250 times more effective at blocking oxygen than plastic. That keeps food from oxidizing and going stale, and also slows down the growth of bacteria.

There are still some issues associated with the casein-based packaging. Due to it being moisture sensitive  and because it is edible, the packaging cannot be used alone on store shelves, yet. In order to keep the packaging both stale and sanitary, the packaging would need to be used in conjunction with a secondary layer of packaging. The casein-film could be used to make single-serving packaging for items like a soup or coffee, that, when dropped into hot water, would dissolve completely.

The casein-based film could be sprayed directly onto food, or directly onto packaging, to create a moisture resistant barrier or add nutrients. With the right industry partners, consumers could see this packaging on the shelves in as little as a year.

To read the full article, click here:
https://thinkprogress.org/usda-edible-food-packaging-9caa16d7d4fd#.mikofvkay

Source: Think Progress

The Difference between Biodegradable and Compostable Packaging Materials

Many packaging products boast environmentally-friendly benefits such as “biodegradable” and “compostable” materials. But what exactly do these terms mean, and what is the difference between them?

 

What Does Biodegradable Mean?

Biodegradable refers to the ability of materials to break down and return to nature. In order for packaging products or materials to qualify as biodegradable, they must completely break down and decompose into natural elements within a short time after disposal – typically a year or less. The ability to biodegrade within landfills helps to reduce the buildup of waste, contributing to a safer, cleaner and healthier environment. Materials that are biodegradable include corrugated cardboard and even some plastics.

 

What Does Compostable Mean?

Compostable materials are similar to biodegradable materials, as they are both intended to return to the earth safely. However, compostable materials go one step further by providing the earth with nutrients once the material has completely broken down. These materials are added to compost piles, which are designated sites with specific conditions dependent on wind, sunlight, drainage and other factors. While biodegradable materials are designed to break down within landfills, compostable materials require special composting conditions.

Interest in bio-materials & boosting compostable packaging

The new trend in packaging materials continued to be influenced by sustainable strategies and goals. However, the topic of compostable packaging continues to be dismissed before actually being considered. Susanna Carson, president, BSI Biodegradable Solution spoke at this past SustPack 2015 in Orlando, Florida. She discussed a case study on one brand owner who brought stakeholders together to create an environmental solution to packaging needs.

In her discussion, “Certification vs. Collaboration: Securing End of Life Options for Compostable Packaging” she touched upon the highest level of interested for environmental friendly packaging is from consumers. The more consumers become interested and educated on the end of life impact of packaging waste in our oceans and landfills the more they are tired of convenient packaging that inevitably sits for thousands of years. Compostable packaging is being driven by consumers and adopted by companies that are listening to what people want. While the interested and demand is high, the use of compostable packaging is low. Companies are still working out pricing, operational issues, facility acceptance, and material performance. Carson emphasized that no one wants to fail and that developments take time.

Compostable packaging is the result of incredible advancements in technology. Plant-based, and bio based polymers perform on par with conventional petroleum-based materials, except that certified compostable packaging will not spend the end of life in landfills and oceans. The similarity is striking; however, it can make it hard for facilities to differentiate between the three types of packaging which can result in facilities rejecting material because it may cause contaminants in their healthy compost.

For further reading on Susanna Carson’s case study and for the full article, please visit http://www.packagingdigest.com/sustainable-packaging/will-interest-in-bio-materials-boost-compostable-packaging-in-the-us150324

 

Source: Packaging Digest