Industry News

Students from Rio create bioplastic that indicates food quality

Students and alumni of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) have designed and produced a biodegradable plastic packaging, called Plasticor, that reveals the quality of food by changing colour when the content is not suitable for consumption.

Developed about a year ago in the Xerem campus labs, the student-developed bioplastic is a sustainable option to avoid food waste.

Every year, of all food produced on the planet, 30 per cent (around 1.3 billion tonnes) goes to trash, according to the United Nations. The colour change would be a way better managing food consumption, by giving preference to those whose expiration is closer, plus ensuring the reliability of expired foods that can still be consumed safely.

“The environmental impact is also reduced since the use of plastic materials has been abundant in the food industry in the last decades,” said Joao Vitor Balbino, a biophysics student and one of the seven members of the startup.

“Our packaging is eco-friendly because it doesn’t use chemical additives and doesn’t take years to degrade.

“While common plastics can take up to five centuries to degrade, students estimate that Plasticor degrades in six months.”

The team is multidisciplinary and involves undergraduate students from biotechnology, nanotechnology, biophysics and marketing courses, a doctoral student of polymer science and technology, and a designer, all from UFRJ.

The project is funded by its own creators, who are seeking possible investors. Those interested in helping can participate in the collective financing created by the team.