The consumption of fossil-based plastics continues to grow exponentially, however, less than 10% of the global plastic waste is recycled and 19% percent incinerated, whereas the remaining majority is mismanaged. There is a strong pull to replace fossil-based plastics with sustainable alternatives. Starch is one of the most abundant and versatile biopolymers that can be used as biodegradable plastics in packaging.
Common bioplastics made from biopolymers are often excellent oxygen gas barriers, while conversely, poor water vapour barriers due to their hygroscopic nature. To improve the barrier performance and meet the demands of the packaging industry, fillers are needed, such as graphene. To this end, RISE has developed a concept of dispersing graphene in water using starch as a dispersing agent, thus eliminating the need for surfactants and their adverse effects on composites. With this concept, graphene can provide both improved oxygen and water vapour barrier simultaneously, which would resolve a known challenge. Moreover, the incorporated graphene can also provide electrical conductivity, thus making composites attractive for smart packaging. In this project, RISE and Billerud will develop starch-based barrier coatings for future packaging applications.
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden and Billerud.
Budget & time plan
The project’s total budget is 1 MSEK and the project runs during seven months – between November 2022 and May 2023.