Researchers from the University of Nottingham have used plant carbohydrates and proteins to develop a 100% biodegradable and edible food packaging.
Derived from konjac flour and starch, cellulose or proteins, the sustainable natural materials were used to develop films.
The edible food packaging is claimed to improve storage, safety and shelf life.
Marie Curie Research Fellow professor Fatang Jiang is also studying the Sino-UK project, which is led by professor Saffa Riffat.
Riffat said: “While plastic materials have been in use for around a century, their poor degradability is now known to cause serious environmental harm. This has led to more stringent recycling targets and even bans coming into force.
“We need to find degradable solutions to tackle plastic pollution, and this is what we are working on now.
“In addition to being edible, degradable, strong and transparent, the packaging materials we are working on have low gas permeability, making them more airtight.
“This feature cuts moisture loss, which slows down spoilage and seals in the flavour. This is of great importance for the quality, preservation, storage and safety of foods.”
The team will initially introduce the fully biodegradable bags made from the plant-based packaging materials at superstores and food supply chains with plans to expand it to general packaging in construction, express delivery and magazines.
The two-year project is backed by the £220K Horizon 2020 Marie Curie fellowship. The research can be extended for another three to five years with further funding.