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Biomass Technology

Compostable packaging developed to detect ‘off food’

“We want to create a world where the materials around us are intelligently engineered and don’t overstay their welcome.”

US start-up Primitives Biodesign has said it has developed a compostable bioplastic product that can respond to the environment and detect safety issues.

Primitives films are based on a toolkit of biomaterials with sensing and display properties. Primitives CEO Viirj Kan and a team of researchers developed this core technology at US university Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The team was inspired by the range of functional materials of natural organisms and wanted to use them to engineer smarter materials.

Kan said: “We’re inspired by the diversity and embedded intelligence of biological systems – from chameleon skin that changes colour, plants that emit odour, pine cones that change shape to emit seeds at optimal humidity, and hydrophobic coatings on banana peels.”

According to Primitives(@PrimitivesIO), these functional films can be integrated into applications across industries. For example, supplement packaging that changes colour when it’s been tampered with or punctured.

It added: “Cannabis packaging that you can bury in your garden, after use. Insulin labels that respond to extreme temperature, telling you it’s no longer safe to use. Milk that tells you it’s gone bad, without having to smell or taste it.”

Primitives said that it “films demonstrate an oxygen barrier that outperforms petroleum-based LDPE by over four times, as well as bioplastic films like PLA. The films also block 98% of harmful UVB rays, comparable to wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30. Plastic ban regulations are getting increasingly explicit about how fast packaging needs to degrade”.

Kan concluded: “We want to create a world where the materials around us are intelligently engineered and don’t overstay their welcome.”


If you were interested in this bioeconomy story, you may also be interested in the ones below.

Read: Paper-based biodegradable sensors could replace ‘use-by’ dates to cut food waste.

Read: 5 Minutes With…Bhavin Bhayani from Avatar Sustainable Technologies.

Read: Asda to use bio-based coating for fruit to tackle food waste.

Read: How sustainable ingredients offer emerging opportunities from food waste.

Read: Industry experts query whether bioplastics can solve the plastic pollution problem at sustainability conference.

Read: Avantium targets 2023 opening for planned bioplastics plant and rebrands Synvina business.

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