Students and alumni of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) have designed and produced a biodegradable plastic packaging that alerts consumers that food has gone bad and should not be eaten.
The product, called Plasticor, changes color if it is no longer fit for consumption. Developed by students about a year ago in the Xerém campus labs, the bioplastic may offer a sustainable option for avoiding food waste.
Every year, some 30% (or 1.3 billion tons) of all food produced ends up being thrown away, according to the United Nations. Packaging that changes color as an indication of the quality of the packaged content could present a way of better managing food consumption; consumers would know which foods are closer to the expiration date and should therefore be eaten soon, while based on the color, they would also immediately see whther food past their expiry dat may nonetheless 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. Our packaging is ecofriendly because it doesn’t use chemical additives and doesn’t take years to degrade”, explains João Vítor Balbino, a biophysics student and one of the seven members of the startup. While conventional 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, contributing with any amount above R$ 10.
To participate, go to https://www.kickante.com.br/campanhas/bioplastico-que-muda-cor-alunxs-ufrjdc