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High Value Added Completely Biodegradable Packaging Materials from Agricultural Residues

Technology Overview

Most commodity goods are packaged using synthetic polymers (plastics) and are treated as one-time use. Hence, considerable amounts of packaging waste ends up in land fills. Efforts to replace plastic packaging with biodegradable packaging have met with limited success. For instance, current biodegradable packaging materials are either expensive or do not satisfy the requirements. Agricultural residues such as straws, stems, coir etc are available in large quantities at considerably low cost. These residues are mostly burnt or buried and do not have major industrial applications (excepting coir). Some efforts have been made to utilize the residues for developing packaging materials and other bioproducts. However, such efforts typically convert the residues into pulp and/or use harsh physical and chemical treatments which increase cost and also do not utilize the unique features of the raw materials.

The technology is to utilise the agricultural residues in their native form and develop bioproducts without any chemicals. The technology provider use a natural binder and the raw materials to develop 100% biodegradable products. The products (cups, bowls, containers, tray, boxes etc) are suitable for food and non-food packaging. Since the technology provider do not use any chemicals and processing is simple, the cost of the products is considerably lower compared to other biodegradable products in the market. The technology is suitable to convert any agricultural residue into biodegradable packaging materials and can manufacture the products in any shape and size desired.

Technology Features & Specifications

The technology is to convert agricultural residues into 100% biodegradable packaging materials without using any chemicals. The technology is also able to retain the unique features of the raw materials and provide bioproducts with distinct properties. The packaging materials developed contain highly valuable and nutritious polymers. After use, the packaging materials can be disposed as fertilizer to plants or as feed for animals. Hence, there is no waste generated in the entire cycle. The technology adds considerable value to the residues and hence will benefit to the farmers and processors.

Potential Applications

Suitable for packaging of any commodity products including ready to eat food, electronics, textiles, accessories, footwear etc. Specific applications are airline food packaging, packaging of shoes, alcoholic beverages (secondary packaging), perfumes, apparel etc. In addition, the packaging materials are also suitable for packaging of one-time use and disposal goods such as ice creams, pizzas etc. Similarly, packaging of electronic goods including USBs, cabinets, spare parts etc can be done. This concept can be extended to packaging of automotive parts that are shipped frequently and have a relatively short shelf life.

Market Trends and Opportunities

Developing and using biodegradable materials is one of the most emerging concepts worldwide. Major companies and individuals are adopting biobased and green materials. Similarly, reducing agricultural waste and promoting circular economy is being promoted in most countries. The current worldwide packaging market is more than US$600 billion. Even substituting 1% of the materials with biodegradable packaging would mean $6 billion. Hence, there is a tremendous market for biodegradable packaging materials.

Customer Benefits

The value proposition is that the packaging is completely biodegradable and developed from raw materials that currently have no or very low value. Using the bioproducts will help to reduce pollution and plastic use and also contribute significantly to increase farm income. Similarly, reducing the use of plastic will decrease pollution and lead to health benefits. The products can be reused or disposed as fertilizer for plants or feed for animals. Hence, there is no effective waste that needs to be handled.

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