Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark have developed a plastic alternative made entirely out of biodegradable grass fibres. According to a statement from the university, over 10,000 tonnes of takeaway food packaging are used in the Scandinavian nation every year, and the project – titled SinProPack – aimed to replace these non-recyclable products with grass-fibre material. It is hoped that the measure will help cause a reduction of co2 emissions from the country’s packaging production industry by 210,000 tonnes.
In the University’s official statement on the project, SinProPack is said to be a foundation for a ‘paradigm shift in packaging solutions’, demonstrating one of the many ways green biomass can offer avenues to a cleaner future.
The project will take both grass and clover as fibre sources. Once protein is extracted from the materials, the hardy fibres make up around 70% of the grass used for biorefining. The possibility of using biomass from peat soil is also to be studied under the scheme.
“After we harvest the grass and extract the protein for animal feed, we can refine and pulp the grass fibres for cellulose, from which we can produce packaging.” Assistant Professor Morten Ambye-Jensen from the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University said in the statement. “In this way, we can use and up-value a side stream from protein production. It’s a great way to create added value for biorefining, as not all grass fibre can necessarily be used as cattle feed.”
Testing of the product is to be undertaken at both Aarhus University and the Danish Technological Institute. The biodegradable packaging company LEAF Packaging is also collaborating on the project, given its existing industry knowledge as a manufacturer of 100% biodegradable fiber food containers.
The project has received 3.3 MDKK (around £380,000) in funding from the green development and demonstration programme under the Danish Agricultural Authority.