6 Juni 2018

Turning rice straws into packaging materials avoids environmental hazards

Philippine project intends to develop packaging materials for specialty rice and food commodities following an environment-friendly process protocol

Rice, when harvested, leaves a voluminous amount of straws on the field. Burning seems to be the easiest way to get rid of them; but burning rice straws causes air pollution and risks to human health.

Rice straws, considered by farmers as wastes, have the potential to become packaging materials for packing rice and other food commodities. A research project will study these straws alone and in combination with other biodegradable raw materials to develop an eco-friendly process of converting them into packaging materials.

The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) has recently approved the implementation of the project, “Development of Green Packaging Technology Using Eco-friendly Materials for Rice and other Commodities.” This will be implemented by Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISaTU), in La Paz, Iloilo City.

In an inception meeting at ISaTU, project leader Dr. Yvette G. Gonzales explained that raw materials available and abundant in the locality will be identified and characterized. Potential raw materials will be converted into packaging papers.

The project intends to develop packaging materials for specialty rice and food commodities following an environment-friendly process protocol.

The process protocol is expected to be cost-effective and will result in longer preservation of rice products, reduced use of health hazardous chemicals to avoid food contamination, and reduced carbon emissions. Series of tests and evaluation will be conducted until packaging materials become strong, durable, moisture-resistant, and affordable.

ISaTU plans to partner with Zarraga Integrated Diversified Organic Farmers Association (ZIDOFA) for some of the activities of the project.

Those who will benefit from the outputs of this project include farmers growing organic/specialty rice and consumers. ISaTU researchers and inventors intend to file for patent on the process and product as soon as these are fully developed.

With this project, PCAARRD looks forward to further provide solutions to waste management problems in rice farms through innovative products and processes that are eco-friendly as well.

Source: DOST-PCAARRD, press release, 2018-04-11.
Author: Ofelia F. Domingo

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