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August 6, 2018

Virginia Tech researchers to create new slippery packaging solution

Researchers from Virginia Tech University in the US are conducting a study to create a new slippery industrial packaging solution in an effort to reduce food waste.

Researchers from Virginia Tech University in the US are conducting a study to create a new slippery industrial packaging solution in an effort to reduce food waste.

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The study, which received a provisional patent, was fully funded through an industrial collaboration with Bemis North America.

According to the study, researchers will include a method to wick chemically compatible vegetable oils into the surfaces of common extruded plastics, which would release sticky foods from their packaging.

The study states that the method can be applied to inexpensive plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene.

“Previous SLIPS, or slippery liquid-infused porous surfaces, have been made using silicon- or fluorine-based polymers, which are very expensive.”

Virginia Tech study lead author Ranit Mukherjee said: “Previous SLIPS, or slippery liquid-infused porous surfaces, have been made using silicon- or fluorine-based polymers, which are very expensive.

“But we can make our SLIPS out of these hydrocarbon-based polymers, which are widely applicable to everyday packaged products.”

SLIPS are absorbent polymers designed to hold chemically compatible oils within their surfaces through wicking making them slippery. They were first created by Harvard University researchers in 2011.

In addition, the study found that the oil-infused plastic surfaces resist bacterial adhesion and growth.

The method is suitable for industrial food and product packaging, as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

The study co-author Jonathan Boreyko said: “We had two big breakthroughs. Not only are we using these hydrocarbon-based polymers that are cheap and in high demand, but we don’t have to add any surface roughness, either.

“We actually found oils that are naturally compatible with the plastics, so these oils are wicking into the plastic itself, not into a roughness we have to apply.”

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For the packaging industry to achieve a sustainable future, it needs to dramatically increase circularity and the reuse of materials. While shifting from a linear economy to a circular model will take time, there are already actions that brands, manufacturers, and converters can already take to help make a difference. This document by Siegwerk – a global leader in inks and coatings for packaging – delves into solving the plastic paradox, looks at the relevance of bioplastics, and sets out ways to not only achieve circularity in packaging but also make it economically viable. Furthermore, the document goes into detail on how printing inks and coatings are vital for enabling circularity in packaging. Ultimately, the packaging system needs to be reconfigured for a circular future. And consumers are expecting the packaging industry to play its part in progress. To take the first step towards circularity, download this document.
by Siegwerk
Enter your details here to receive your free Whitepaper.

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