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Researchers create edible, transparent composite packaging with biocellulose

Date: 17.7.2023 

Plastic food packaging accounts for a significant proportion of plastic waste in landfills. In the face of escalating environmental concerns, researchers are looking to bio-derived alternatives.

Kredit: To Ngai.Now, scientists at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) have developed an edible, transparent and biodegradable material with considerable potential for application in food packaging.

Heavy reliance on petrochemicals and inherent non-biodegradability of plastic packaging mean it has long been a significant contributor to environmental contamination. A team at CUHK has turned its attention to bacterial cellulose (BC), an organic compound derived from certain types of bacteria, which has garnered attention as a sustainable, easily available, and non-toxic solution to the pervasive use of plastics.

Professor To Ngai from the Department of Chemistry, CUHK and corresponding author of the study, explained that the impressive tensile strength and high versatility of BC are the key to its potential.

Unlike the cellulose found in the cell walls of plants, BC can be produced through microbial fermentation, which eliminates the need for harvesting trees or crops. Ngai noted that as a result, "...this production method does not contribute to deforestation or habitat loss, making BC a more sustainable and environmentally friendly material alternative to plant cellulose."

Image source: To Ngai.





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