Researchers from Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) and Yonsei University have developed a sustainable marine biodegradable paper coating material.  

The joint research team was led by KAIST Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Jaewook Myung, Department of Life Sciences Professor Hanseul Yang, and Yonsei University Department of Packaging and Logistics Professor Jongcheol Seo. 

The team employed boric acid-crosslinked polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) to enhance the paper’s biodegradability, barrier properties, and strength.  

The coated paper outperformed conventional plastics, maintaining barrier properties and physical strength even under humid conditions. 

In addition, the team performed an in-depth examination of biodegradation and biocompatibility to systematically evaluate the sustainability of the coated paper.  

The biodegradation process was simulated in a marine environment. 

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Using a respiratory system-based bioreactor, the researchers measured carbon mineralisation into carbon dioxide.  

The examination revealed that the coated papers achieved 59-82% biodegradation after 111 days, depending on the coating component. 

Following the study, the research suggests a new coating strategy that improves packaging performance while maintaining sustainability, addressing the limitations of paper packaging.  

The boric acid-crosslinked PVA-coated paper does not require artificial composting or sewage treatment facilities, and its low toxicity ensures it does not contribute to environmental pollution if discarded. 

Seo, who led the research on the development of the high-performance paper coating said: “We will continue to develop sustainable materials with excellent performance. Through this research, we have developed a sustainable paper packaging technology that can replace non-degradable plastic packaging, and we expect the research outcome will be applied in industry.” 

The study’s findings were published in the Green Chemistry and Food Chemistry journals. 

It was supported by the Korea Research Foundation and the Korea Institute for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Technology Planning and Evaluation.