New biofilm could prevent food waste

Researchers have created a new degradable bioplastic film which could help to manage India’s food waste. 

Currently, around 40% of fresh produce in India goes to waste because it cannot be packaged and delivered quickly enough to get to the shops before it rots.

In a bid to help tackle this issue, researchers have developed a degradable film that is significantly cheaper than current alternatives.

The film is made predominatly from tapioca starch, a by-product of the country’s cassava plant industry, but it has the same properties as standard food-grade plastic film.

It is hoped that the new bioplastic can be used to extend the shelf-life of food in India to help reduce the amount of food that goes to waste.

Although the product isn’t yet commercially available, the researchers hope that the lower cost will make it more feasible for farmers and producers to wrap their fresh produce.

The researchers will now pass their 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.

Professor Karnik Tarverdi, director of extrusion technology at Brunel University said: ‘In India, cassava is used extensively in the diet of large sections of the society. But the cassava plant has to be first treated with washing and beating before it can be used.

‘When the plant is treated, it releases tapioca starch that is washed down the waterways and causes pollution downstream. We wanted to harness the waste starch and use it as an additive to make the film cheaper.’

In related news, researchers have created a new way of using household waste residues and used textiles to develop new clothing products that can be produced in the UK.

Photo Credit – Pixabay


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