This project regards the development of a plastic alternative material, using biopolymers and orange peels, to create a sustainable packaging solution for casing fruit.
This project regards the development of a plastic alternative material, using biopolymers and orange peels, to create a sustainable packaging solution for casing fruit. The idea for the project came from research surrounding orange juice cartons and the initial idea was to produce an alternative to these containers in order to tackle the sustainability issues surrounding their usage. The idea of creating a biopolymer alternative which utilised the waste product of the juice production was something which demanded further development. The material is made from a combination of glycerol, potato, corn starch, water and orange peel.
The nature of developing the material has led to a design process refined by testing. Major developments in the process, such as the correct ratio of the ingredients, were all found through trial and error testing. Mechanical properties testing supported the design process by identifying the material properties required for the biopolymer to succeed. The material can vary from rubbery to a sturdy, hard polymer; depending on the ratio of glycerol to starch in the mix and the temperature and time it is cooked for.
One property found through testing was that the material was not naturally waterproof. Moreover, without the development of a secondary layering to make it hydrophobic, it was originally felt that the material’s best use would be in a dry environment. Therefore, a packaging for fruit is the final deliverable rather than a container for orange juice. The material itself is completely biodegradable and therefore removes a lot of problems that plastic waste currently creates, such as polluting the oceans and harming wildlife. This also means that the product can be completely compostable, so some of the energy used to produce the packaging can go back into the soil for further uses, such as growing further oranges.