There are many genuinely sustainable products that environmentally-conscious consumers wish were already freely available. One that is likely to come high on people's wish lists is a biodegradable alternative to the fossil-fuel based plastic that makes up close to 100% of what’s being manufactured. Now, a group of scientists from an Indian research group has developed a food-standard packaging film made from the skins of mangoes that could provide the solution.
Created by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai, researchers from the institute said the completely compostable mango-based plastic keeps meat fresher for longer, with particularly strong results when used to protect chicken.
Explaining the reason behind this, BARC said the high lipid content of meat means it is susceptible to oxidation that spoils it, a reaction that the mango-based packaging staves off for up to four-times as long. Testing of the bio-film actually kept chicken fresh for 12 days in temperatures around 3˚C, compared with just three days when using conventional plastic film.
According to BARC, the film, which uses bioactive compounds like phenolics and carotenoids from the skins of alphonso, kesar, langra and badami mangoes, has produced positive antimicrobial properties against common food microbes. Also containing polyvinyl alcohol, gelatin and cyclodextrin, a senior scientific officer from BARC suggested that using the skins of the sweet exotic fruit as a material was an obvious choice. Reported in The Hindu, Dr. Sweetie R. Kanatt, said: “India is one of the highest producers of mango, and the peel, which is usually thrown away, has higher phenolic content than the pulp and can serve as a good antioxidant."
Bio-Based World News reported back in 2016 on a variety of a 100% biodegradable flexible plastic packaging that is made from orange peel, and a year later revealed another that uses the proteins present in milk to create packaging that can break down within 18 days. Other examples of food-grade plastic made entirely from plant-based materials on the market include offerings from Futamura, which has also developed @NatureFlexFilms, a compostable and renewable packaging film made from wood pulp, and Vegware (@vegware), a UK company that has produced its Green Leaf brand that includes sandwich boxes and coffee cups that can be recycled with food waste where such facilities exist.
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From the vaults: Biodegradable packaging + surplus food = sustainable snacking.