Research and development of protein plastics has been done by the polymeric materials division at the Royal Institute of Technology since late 1990, often together with the team led by Professor Eva Johansson at Swedish Agricultural University. An increasing needs of plastics from renewable resources instead of oil has been experienced to minimize the amount of green-house gases generated, resulting in global warming.
Pollution can be minimized by the use of renewable feedstock. Protein plastics are best alternative, not the least as it is a side-stream product from the existing industrial process. By producing plastic products, particularly from by-product improves the effectiveness by which we are able to use the natural resources and leads to a more sustainable society.
The sustainability can be enhanced further if the additives added in the plastics can be a renewable source. When renewable resources are considered, proteins for plastics can be determined from food plants also from non-edible sources. Protein based on the animals are also alternatives for production of plastic, for instance, proteins from connective tissues, milk, silk and feathers & wool.
Among all the proteins, Wheat gluten is the protein that forms most cohesive material. So it has been used to enhance the cohesion of other protein materials. Wheat gluten can be manufactured in various types of products such as foams & rigid solid 3D items, flexible films etc. It can be painted with all types of colours and can be made translucent or opaque. Protein plastics are stiff and to gain flexible products, these need to be plasticised with natural sugar.
The plasticisation will likewise make the material harder. Glycerol is an expansive by-product of biodiesel fuel preparation and thereby are accessible in vast amounts. There are other options to glycerol however it is difficult to worn out glycerol as far as its adequacy as a plasticiser. Rape-seed protein is also accessible as by-product of biodiesel production. Blending it with plasticiser and wheat gluten results into a material that looks like PVC flooring. Crambe Abyssinica is a plant with oil seeds which, depends on its poisonous quality, unappetizing for animals and people.
They have demonstrated that it is conceivable to expel Crambe into films when it is merged with wheat gluten and plasticiser. If it is a great protein immaculateness grade the films are completely transparent. To decrease the value films can be made with less protein immaculateness, however the films will be less transparent. For the lesser immaculateness grades, a particular cheese smell is there.
Apropos a recent report on North America Fresh Meat Packaging Films Market compiled by Future Market Insights, the market is anticipated to witness sluggish expansion through 2026. Several key players has been profiled in the report, which have contributed to the growth of the market such as Berry Plastic Group, Inc., Sealpac International BV, Coveris Holdings S.A., Bemis Company, Inc., Sealed Air Corp., ALKAR-RapidPak, Inc., Robert Reiser & Co, Multivac Sepp Haggenmüller GmbH & Co.KG, Harpak-ULMA Packaging, LLC, and Winpak Ltd. Strategies of these players to remain at the pole position has also been included in the report.