Researchers from South Carolina’s Clemson University are turning kudzu — a collection of climbing, coiling and trailing deciduous perennial vines — into a biodegradable food packaging film.

By combining pearl millet starch and reinforcing it with kudzu weed cellulose materials, the team created a biopolymer-based film dubbed Biopack.

Source: Clemson UniversitySource: Clemson University

Designed as an alternative to plastic food packaging, which has become a major source of the world’s plastic waste, Biopack starch-based films can be used once and then biodegrade, according to its developers.

To create Biopack, the researchers isolated nanocrystals from kudzu to form the starch-based films reinforced with kudzu cellulosic fibers. The packaging material also reportedly includes clove bud oil.

To determine if the material could potentially be used for the commercial packaging of foods, the team tested it on grapes, finding that after 15 days, the grapes stored in the film in a cold setting had maintained their weight, firmness and soluble solids.

Biopack is detailed in the study, Development, characterization and application of pearl millet starch-based nanocomposite films reinforced with kudzu cellulose nanocrystals.

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