Broadening cellulose-based packaging into plastic packaging markets
Publication Name: Proceedings of the 2021 Society of Wood Science and Technology International Convention
Publication URL: https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf2021/fpl_2021_wang005.pdf
The USDA Science Blueprint reports that the world population will likely grow by 20 percent to 9.7 billion people over the next 30 years, and demand for goods and services provided by farm and forest lands will increase by about 40 percent. Food packaging will become increasingly important to preserve food quality and facilitate food distribution to reduce poverty and hunger across the world. Meanwhile, the pressure from climate change and plastic pollution challenges us to develop a bioeconomy – where petroleum-based products are replaced with biobased and biodegradable products. Cellulose emerges as a potential versatile biopolymer to make hydrogels for absorbents, aerogels for insulation, membranes for filters, films for packaging, and fibers for textiles and reinforcement. Wood cellulose is perceived by relevant stakeholders to be renewable, biodegradable, and sustainable. The fiber supply infrastructure is readily available to provide billions of tons of wood as feedstocks. However, challenges need to be overcome for the realization of cellulose-based primary packaging. We discuss the investigations and findings of developing cellulose-based packaging with barrier properties comparable with plastic packaging, including nanocellulose films, nanocellulose polymer laminates, and cellulose nanofibril coated paper; testing gas and vapor barrier properties; understanding composition/structure/barrier property relationships.