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Academe pursues plastics replacement goals (plastic bag and soft card sleeve)

Jolly Sunshine Limited | Updated: Nov 15, 2017

An inexpensive biomaterial that can be used to sustainably replace plastic barrier coatings in packaging and other applications has been developed by Penn State researchers, who predict its adoption would greatly reduce pollution.

The newly released study noted that the biomaterial—a polysaccharide polyelectrolyte complex—is composed of nearly equal parts treated cellulose pulp from wood or cotton and chitosan, which is derived from chitin, the primary ingredient in the exoskeletons of arthropods and crustaceans. The main source of chitin is the mountains of leftover shells from lobsters, crabs and shrimp consumed by humans. (trading card sleeve and deck box)

These environmentally friendly barrier coatings have numerous applications, ranging from water-resistant paper and coatings for ceiling tiles and wallboard to food coatings to seal in freshness, according to lead researcher, Jeffrey Catchmark, professor of agricultural and biological engineering, College of Agricultural Sciences. (game card sleeve)

“The material’s unexpected strong, insoluble adhesive properties are useful for packaging as well as other applications, such as full natural wood-fiber composites for construction and even flooring,” Catchmark said. The potential reduction in pollution is immense, he added, if these barrier coatings replace millions of tons of petroleum-based plastic associated with food packaging used every year in the United States, and much more globally. (magic the gathering game card sleeve and photo album)

“These results show that polysaccharide polyelectrolyte complex-based materials may be competitive barrier alternatives to synthetic polymers for many commercial applications,” said Catchmark, who, along with Penn State, has applied for a patent on the coatings. (PP die cut sheet)