A study conducted at Karlstad University in Sweden determined that all petroleum-based material used in food packaging can be eventually replaced with a starch-based material.

According to the study, the new bio-based material, which is a combination of starch and other polymers, can offer a protective barrier similar to that of plastic packaging.

“Food packaging has to protect and extend the shelf life of food, and should also work during transport.”

Petroleum-based plastic is generally used to serve as protective coating for paper-based food packaging to prevent the risk of oxygen or water entering into the packaging and spoiling the product.

A researcher at the Karlstad University highlighted that a new bio-based material prepared using lignin from wood and starch from maize or potatoes can potentially be as effective as plastic.

Karlstad University doctor in Chemical Engineering Asif Javed said: “Food packaging has to protect and extend the shelf life of food, and should also work during transport.

“To meet these demands, a protective barrier is needed in paper-based packagings, such as those used for juice or dairy.”

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“If new materials are to be used, they have to be at least as good as or better than petroleum-based material – regarding extending the shelf life of food, as well as the cost and effectivity of manufacture and transport.”

Javed also pointed out that more research is needed to replace petroleum-based materials completely in the long term.

Conducted at the Vipp graduate school at Karlstad University, the research was funded by Billerud Korsnäs and the Knowledge Foundation.