With petroleum based plastic rapidly accumulating on the planet’s waste dumps and oceans, researchers are racing to find a more environment friendly alternative.
Enter casein-based film, which is packaging made from protein found in milk.
A report presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) says the film, which is still a few years into commercial production, is a vast improvement over its old counterparts because it is better at keeping oxygen away from the food it protects due to its pore structure.
“The protein-based films are powerful oxygen blockers that help prevent food spoilage. When used in packaging, they could prevent food waste during distribution along the food chain,” research leader Peggy Tomasula, D.Sc., told the ACS.
The film also has another food-based ingredient, which is citrus pectin, added to keep the material strong and flexible without dissolving. Despite its robust chemical makeup, the material is biodegradable, unlike petroleum based plastic.
Researchers also aim to address the vegan market that may be turned off by the animal protein. They are working on producing synthetic casein film as well.
Because of its nutritional value, the film can likewise be used to augment diets in undernourished locales by making flavored variants of the product that are edible and palatable.