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Cellulose-based Packaging: New Sustainability Solutions for the Food and Beverage Industry

Technology Overview

As vast quantities of packaging pollute the planet, our research looks at new packaging initiatives for food and beverages made from reinforced cardboard or molded cellulose. Thanks to their innovation power in terms of performance but even more in terms of adaptability, or functionality “à la carte”, focus is placed on the micro-fibrillated crystals (MFC) and cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) to provide the necessary barrier effect along with mechnical resistance.

This technology provides a method to produce these MFC and CNC. The method involves setting the cellulose fibres in suspension, followed by refining, bleaching and enzyme treatmentDepending on the fibrous raw materials, fibrillation conditions and surface grafting, different types of MFC and CNC can be used, which allow for upgrading of barrier effect and strength in the board packaging. 

Technology Features & Specifications

  • Cellulose is inexpensive, abundant, intrinsically hydrophilic, non-toxic, and inert.
  • The packaging are cellulose based, focus is placed on the incorporation of MFC and CNC.
  • The highly crystalline CNC is robust and has a low density—benefiting from a minimum weight and a high strength—cellulose nanofibers should be five times more solid than iron but a fifth lighter.
  • MFC and CNC exhibits interesting barrier properties (towards water and oxygen).
  • Agricultural fibers can augment the stiffness properties of MFC and CNC.
  • MFC and CNC improve also printability characteristics.

Potential Applications

The cellulose nanofibers may be tailored for a huge potential of applications in the  food and beverage packaging. Particularly, bottles made of cellulose, tourism dishes.

Market Trends and Opportunities

In 2020, the global market for packaging should represent more than one trillion US dollars, more than 40% of which in Asia and about half of it made of cellulose to answer the need for sustainable demand. Cellulose (C6H10O5)n  is the most abundant, renewable, sustainable organic polymer on the planet. It can be found in plant cell walls. It is produced in large volume. The quantity which is synthesised by vegetals is estimated to be around 50 to 100 billion tons per year. We have identified a huge potential of technologies and applications but also various challenges, where we need partners to overcome these critical barriers.

Customer Benefits

  • Circular economy
  • Ethic and aesthetics
  • Environmentally-friendly technologies and products
  • Safe for use in food or beverages packaging industry

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