Polymer Science and Innovative Applications - Chapter 16: Polymers and food packaging

Elsevier, Polymer Science and Innovative Applications, Materials, Techniques, and Future Developments, 2020, Pages 525-543
Behjat Tajeddin and Mina Arabkhedri

The main purpose of food packaging is to keep food contents from contaminants and damage caused by exposure to the outside world. In this day and age, remarkable changes are occurring in the applications of packaging materials, which will challenge existing materials and processes. Metals, ceramics, papers, and polymers are widely used as core materials for food packaging applications; specifically, the use of plastics or polymers is extremely common in the packaging industry. Petroleum polymers are rapidly gaining popularity in packaging applications in both the first- and second-level production of packaging materials because of their notable mechanical, thermal, and solvent-resistant properties. However, the challenges for the packaging industry in utilizing conventional polymeric materials include the nonrenewable nature of polymers and their inability to be biodegradable. Thus the concept of using bioplastics came into existence. Bioplastics are often renewable, compostable, and biodegradable. Naturally, bioplastics are not absolutely perfect; however, they may improve with the enhancement of technology such as nanotechnology and its applications in biodegradable materials. Therefore researchers and food packaging industry experts are constantly working on innovative solutions to improve packaging materials and bioplastics. The objective of this chapter is to analyze packaging materials with special attention given to some commonly used polymers including conventional polymers, biopolymers, and nanopolymers as well as diving into some well-known research and findings on this topic.