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Plasticised Starch and Metal Oxide Biocomposite
According to the data from the Central Statistical Agency (BPS), plastic waste in Indonesia in 2021 reach almost 64 million tons per year and estimate will increase by one third to 6.1 million tonners in 2025 and will more than double in 2040.
The trend of using packaging is currently shifting with changes in environmental and lifestyle issues. The use of plastic is increasingly in the spotlight because of its impact on the environment. the current research trend is to find new sources of ingredients that meet safety aspects for the environment and for the food itself.
Bio-composites have emerged as alternative packaging material due to its biodegradability and the ability to solve the waste problem for the environment. Bio-composite is developing as an important material that not only reduces environment pollution but also improve its functional properties as a packaging material. Starch-based bio-composites has been considered because its physical characteristics are similar to synthetic polymers.
The inclusion of active ingredients in the packaging to improve safety and quality and to extend the shelf life of food has been trending in recent decades, as the threat of microbial contamination to human health has increased. Therefore, it is necessary to find, develop, and improve antimicrobial materials that can inhibit the proliferation of various microorganisms. The rapid spread of microbes in food encourages the use of antimicrobials in food packaging.
This opportunity presents a material composition for the development of advanced packaging. This technology utilises metal oxides as antimicrobial agents for thermoplastic starch bio-composites. These metal oxides incorporated in the bio-composite matrix also enables interaction with the surface material thereby increasing the mechanical strength of the biomaterial. The use of metal oxides, zinc oxide (ZnO), titanium dioxide (TiO2), and magnesium oxide (MgO) are of particular interest, because they are safe for animals and humans.
Research requires a development stage to achieve the ideal composition that suits the needs on a commercial scale. Further research collaboration is required to lead to technology transfer in the form of technology licensing, JVs, etc.
Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages
Studies on the production and application of starch-based composites as packaging materials confirm their ability to extend the shelf life of fresh vegetables. Starch-based bio-composites are described as packaging materials that are odourless, colourless, tasteless, non-toxic, bio-absorbable, and semi-permeable to carbon dioxide, oxygen, lipids, flavour components, and moisture.
However, there are some drawbacks to the use of biopolymers as packaging materials, such as poor thermal, mechanical and barrier properties, compared to conventional petroleum-based non-biodegradable materials. This study aims to improve physical and functional properties of starch-based bio-composite, mixed with other biopolymers, other hydrophobic and/or antimicrobial agents the compound has been carried out.
- This material is intended for the food packaging market, such as active packaging / anti-microbial packaging.
- Plastic products in Indonesia are used by a wide array of industries such as the food and beverage packaging industry which accounts for 60%, building and household appliances for 15%, the automotive sector for 8%, and the remainder by other sectors including agriculture and horticulture.
- Due to limited research, the product is still focused on the F&B field, although other applications in the automotive and infrastructure fields could be possible, but would need further research. The hydrophobic properties enables the wide use of this material for other industrial sectors such as automotive, health support equipment, and infrastructure.
- The Indonesian plastics market was valued at over USD 7.5 billion in 2020, and the market is projected to register a CAGR of more than 5% during the forecast period (2021-2026). COVID-19 has largely affected the raw material import, as the Indonesian plastic market mostly relies on imported raw materials for plastic production. The packaging industry was highly impacted, and this was due to prime concern about the hygiene and safety of reusable packaging. However, this situation becomes an opportunity for this material.
This technology offers benefits relating to the material breakthroughs and the social and environmental benefits that will be felt. While active packaging is still considerably new in the packaging industry, because the anti-microbial properties of this technology are supported by the non-toxicity of the active substance to humans, the biodegradable nature of this product is more positive for environmental health. The issue of plastic waste is still a major problem in the world, not only threatening human life but also threatening the balance of the environment, and this material is a small step for a better future.
Pricing strategies consist of competition-based pricing, cost-plus pricing, dynamic pricing, penetration pricing, and price skimming. We believe our product is a price skimming strategy because apart from containing the value of new technology, our target market is highly segmented and unique, only for consumers who understand the value of a product that can contribute to social and environmental value.