PLASTICOR INITIATIVE: AN BIODEGRADABLE, COMPOSTABLE AND INTELLIGENT PACKAGE
Ending world hunger is a noble end, among so many others, that any citizen in the world would agree that something we should pursue. However, there is no relevance what people think, it is import how people act; food security is not achieved and one of the main reasons for this is the great waste of food. So, it is important to know what are the possible causes for waste so much food in a world of hungry.
Let’s check the facts, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted. And at the last decade, the numbers are increasing. Industrialized and developing countries dissipate roughly the same quantities of food — respectively 670 and 630 million tonnes indicating there is no barrier for this situation1.
At the same hand, per capita waste by consumers is between 95-115 kg a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and south-eastern Asia, each throw away only 6-11 kg (although Total per capita food production for human consumption is about 900 kg a year in rich countries, almost twice the 460 kg a year produced in the poorest regions) a year and the total amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world’s annual
There is one main difference at the wasting food between the richest and poorest countries: while, developing countries 40% of losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels while in industrialized countries more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels and, at retail level, large quantities of food are wasted due to quality standards that over-emphasize appearance1.
Food loss and waste also amount to a major squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, labour and capital and needlessly produce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GEE), contributing to global warming and climate change2.
Hence, fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food. This is shown in the following Figure1.
So, in a nutshell, the richest countries waste much more amount the food the poorest ones by main different reasons, while the first ones waste because of the difficulty of trust based on high standards, the second ones waste because the lack of a 21st century technology to give a good use of their resources and both groups wastes more fruits, vegetables, cereals, roots and tubers then any ok kind of food, like meat (cattle, chicken and other birds, fishes, etc.).
In an attempt to seek a humble solution that ties all these traits mentioned previously, the PLASTICOR initiative is founded by RESGREEN, located in a developing country and agrarian, BRAZIL, and led by a woman, paved one of the possible ways to orchestrate the technology that fits at this century utilizing the country's plant resources and focusing on meeting all the demands of consumer standards and, by externality, reduces GEE.
Due to the collective awareness of the common demands of the populations of both developed and emerging countries, it is necessary to use technology for environmental emergencies and to preserve the food security of all citizens living on this planet2.
The search for solutions that lead to 100% biodegradable and compostable plastic has been mobilizing scientists and environmentalists for some time. Due to the high demand for plastic materials to be used in the packaging sector, the productive sector has been concerned with maintaining the competitiveness of these materials against others traditionally used, such as glass and aluminum, by improving and optimizing their packaging properties, like mechanical, thermal and chemical ones providing the product with desired characteristics such as flexibility and resistance to heat and humidity, resistance to low temperatures (in case of food refrigeration), resistance to chemicals (cleaning agents), efficient barrier gas (in the case of packaging used in beverages), transparency (parafilm used in seals) and low cost.
However, packaging is not only material, looked only by in terms of properties and performance; no, packaging is more than that: packaging is like pregnanct woman, the more value is given to the one who protects, the more value is given to what is inside. Then, our approach is by a not orthodox way: we raised the value of the package (lowering the cost) and, naturally, people give more value to the food inside. In the verge of our wish to accomplish the future desired by all, biodegradable and compostable nanocomposites made packages from corn starch are made it should be able to reduce the environmental impact3.
Starch has been widely used as a biodegradable polymer. Starch is a polysaccharide from the biobased plastic products category, and it stands out for being abundant in nature and inexpensive4. In contrast, its great hydrophilicity is accompanied by low dimensional stability and mechanical strength, which makes its application as a biodegradable plastic difficult5. In other hand, many studies report the incorporation of plant fibers6, clays7 and/or graphene8,9 in their matrix where an increase in their life expectancy is expected, making the formulation of this nanocomposite a high technology, with efficiency in the processing and application.
As we previously discussed, the development of compostable and biodegradable wheat starch reinforced nanocomposites is extremely attractive, providing increased mechanical strength while maintaining film elasticity, as well as modifying permeability to water and solvents, reducing degradation by hydrolysis of starch film. Thus, the development of smart and sustainable packaging using this technology constitutes an alternative industrial solution to the traditionally used materials.
RESGREEN is a company that emerged from the passion of its partners for nature, driven by curiosity and desire to undertake positive social change. As the first product, the company introduced wheat straw, a 100% natural, 100% biodegradable straw, without chemical additives, without gluten and coming from a material that had, until then, no economic use: the wheat stem.
With this project, RESGREEN aims to expand its product portfolio by incorporating the technology developed by PLASTICOR initiative, which consists in the production of transparent and flexible plastic, 100% biodegradable and compostable, made from corn- or cassava starch.
In a short way, PLASTICOR is a private initiative that aims to develop sustainable solutions, always aiming to reduce the production of plastic waste and increase the quality of life of consumers, while attend their demands.
In this context, the project trace its objective to manufacture biodegradable and compostable nanocomposites using as a matrix the thermoplastic starch reinforced with wheat stalk for application in the packaging sector, generating a new nanoproduct that meets the demand of the packaging sector for an environmentally sustainable material with low cost and easy to obtain.
RESGREEN's business model involves the development of all-natural solutions for the disposable market and the commercialization of pioneering products in the Brazilian market - which requires innovative and unprecedented technologies, analysis and equipment on the national scene10
The development of biosensors is gaining more and more space in the literature and in financing companies interested in launching this technology on the market. In the United States, where there is a large investment in research in the area of nanotechnology, the estimated potential market is around 11 billion dollars with a growth of 10.8% in recent years. As new equipment is launched on the market, greater investments and advances in research on this technology are made. The trend is the combination of nanotechnology with biosensors through the miniaturization of the surface area of materials and the use of nanoparticles to develop more sensitive systems, with faster response time.
Plasticor initiative is a part of Resgreen, led by a woman, who tries to avoid food waste (a quantity of food who can safely lower the hunger in world and avoids food intoxication), reduces GEE, make a good of use a not used part of cassava and wheat production, localizated in a country that good part of its economy depends on agriculture, Brazil, makes partnership with small family farmers, who lives in vulnerable situations without incentives, and productors of wheat, corn and cassava and trying to rise their production in a middle- to long term
and targeting the Two main consumers: attend the standards of the ones at developing country and increasing the performance from the field to the market of local agriculture, using sensors to avoid unnecessary fresh food waste.
“Once, a beautiful forest started to catch fire. The frightened animals began to run, desperately fleeing the beautiful forest. But one of them, a little bird, boldly decided to do something to prevent the flames from bursting: it would take a little water from the beak and pour water on the flames in an attempt to put out the fire. The other animals told it that it would be impossible for it to put out the fire on its own. But the bird did not hesitate to answer: ‘It does not matter. I'm doing my part'.
Currently, 1.3 billion food, in tonnes, are thrown away, representing a waste of 30% of total production. Those foods that are still suitable for consumption could feed 111 million people who die of starvation in the world. Thinking about this issue, Plasticor, led by a woman, a mother who paved possible ways to orchestrate the technology that fits this century, for externality, reduce the Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GEE). A Intelligent packaging that has a biosensor not only indicates whether the food is suitable for consumption or not, but also increases the economy of family farming.