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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Bioproducts from Agricultural Feedstocks

Location: Bioproducts Research

Title: Utilization of biobased polymers in food packaging: Assessment of materials, production and commercialization

Authors
item Imam, Syed
item Glenn, Gregory
item Chiellini, Emo -

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: January 16, 2012
Publication Date: March 10, 2012
Citation: Imam, S.H., Glenn, G.M., Chiellini, E.E. 2012. Utilization of biobased polymers in food packaging: Assessment of materials, production and commercialization. In: Yam, K.L., Lee, D.S., editors. Emerging food packaging technologies: Principles and practice. Cambridge, UK: Woodhead Publishing Company. p. 435-468.

Interpretive Summary: Food packaging contains and protects food, keeps it safe and secure, retains food quality and freshness, and increases shelf-life of food. Because of the increasing impact of disposable, synthetic packaging on the planet, packaging should not only be inexpensive but also biodegradable and made of renewable resources whenever possible. Biodegradability reduces the environmental impact of disposable packaging in important ways including waste reduction and limited use of non-renewable petroleum products. Biobased fuels and chemicals from renewable resources that can compete effectively with petroleum-derived synthetic chemicals present an alternative to synthetics. Generally, agriculturally derived polymers have poor physical-mechanical properties, are inconsistent in purity, present difficulties in material processing and perform poorly under extreme conditions. Nevertheless, biomaterials are biodegradable and are renewable. To overcome the shortcomings in renewable materials, blends and composites have shown to be the most promising and are expected to play a major role in food packaging. This chapter presents an overview of many of the challenges and solutions to the use of biodegradable and renewable polymers

Technical Abstract: Food packaging contains and protects food, keeps it safe and secure, retains food quality and freshness, and increases shelf-life of food. Packaging should be affordable and biodegradable. Packaging is the core of the businesses of fast-foods, ready meals, on-the-go beverages, snacks and manufactured foods, and is one of the fastest growing sectors of the global economy. Synthetic plastics have excellent barrier and thermal insulation properties that are critical for packaged foods. However, synthetic plastics do not readily biodegrade, are a disposal challenge and are a threat to human health and the environment. Biobased fuels and chemicals from renewable resources that can compete effectively with petroleum-derived synthetic chemicals present an alternative to synthetics. Generally, agriculturally derived polymers have poor physical-mechanical properties, are inconsistent in purity, present difficulties in material processing and perform poorly under extreme conditions. Nevertheless, biomaterials are biodegradable and are renewable. To overcome the shortcomings in renewable materials, blends and composites have shown to be the most promising and are expected to play a major role in food packaging. This chapter presents an overview of many of the challenges and solutions to the use of biodegradable and renewable polymers.

Last Modified: 11/22/2014
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