The US Department of Agriculture are developing a new type of packaging that might just revolutionise our use of non-recyclable plastic for food. The new packaging is made from casein, a protein that is derived from milk.
The team of researchers behind the milk protein wrapping recently presented their work at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.
“The protein-based films are powerful oxygen blockers that help prevent food spoilage. When used in packaging, they could prevent food waste during distribution along the food chain,” says research leader Peggy Tomasula, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The environmentally friendly packaging is up to 500 times better at keeping oxygen away from food than current plastic packaging. This innovative packaging has the potential to increase the shelf life of many products. Being a natural protein the packaging is totally biodegradable and even edible.
Not only is the packaging great for food, but also the environment. Most of today’s food packaging is made from petroleum which is not sustainable, does not biodegrade and creates tonne upon tonne of landfill waste. This new packaging would be the most sustainable product for food packaging to date.
The team who developed the packaging are working on other ways that casein could be used as a coating for cardboard boxes or plastic pouches. The team estimate the packaging will be used for meats, breads, cheese, snacks within three years.