How can antimicrobial packaging benefit food safety and the environment? Clelia Covino, PhD student, explains the inner workings and advantages…
Interest in the production of food packaging from biodegradable materials is constantly increasing across the globe. Consumers demand products that are environmentally friendly, safer and nontoxic. Today, almost all food is packaged for sale to the consumer. Food packaging is essential for the preservation and protection of food from contamination. The use of biodegradable polymers means we can avoid synthetic materials which are difficult to dispose of and recycle.
In order to decrease the volume of agro-waste, polymers can be extracted from plant resources. Biodegradable polymers are defined as materials that are capable of decomposition into carbon dioxide, methane, water, inorganic compounds, or biomass predominantly by the enzymatic action of microorganisms (Figure 1). Several biopolymers such as starch, cellulose, chitosan, PLA, PCL, PHB etc., are used for packaging sector.1 The ASTM standard D6400-04 is a test used to measure degradation activity of materials made from plastics which have been designed to be composted.2
Besides their biodegradability, biopolymers have other characteristics, such as air permeability, low temperature ‘sealability’, availability, and cost. Moreover, natural polymers can have a positive effect on delaying deterioration, extending shelf life, and preserving quality and food safety.