BIOPLASTICS
Development of degradable bioplastic film with tapioca starch
The bioplastic film contains 30% tapioca starch (Photo: PantherMedia/sierpniowka)
After two years of working on the project, scientists from the UK-based Brunel University London (www.brunel.ac.uk), along with Nextek (London; www.nextek.org) and scientists from the University of Greenwich (London; www.gre.ac.uk) have developed a degradable bioplastic film by recycling waste starch produced by India’s expansive cassava plant industry. The bioplastic film – which the scientists claim is significantly cheaper than current films – aims to help India manage its food waste by extending edibles’ shelf-life; 40% of the country’s fresh produce is currently disposed of because of packaging and delivery discrepancies.

“The cassava plant has to be treated first with washing, and then beaten, before it can be used,” said Karnik Tarverdi, director of extrusion technology at Brunel University London’s chemical engineering department. “When the plant is treated, it releases tapioca starch that is washed down the waterways and causes pollution downstream. We wanted to harness this waste starch and use it as an additive to make film cheaper.”

The film, which was funded by Innovate UK’s (Swindon; www.gov.uk) Newton Fund, contains 30% tapioca starch and has the same properties as a standard food-grade plastic film. The product, however, is not yet commercially available. Researchers plan to pass the work on to their Indian partners, who are setting up a new manufacturing plant to replicate and demonstrate the new film at a much larger scale.
07.12.2020 Plasteurope.com [246442-0]
Published on 07.12.2020

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