The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) through its Centre for Incubation of Technologies (BARCIT) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Nagpur-based Veena Industries, a firm that incubates technology for ''biodegradable and edible films for food and pharmaceuticals packaging.''
BARC has developed biodegradable edible films from natural resources that have comparable mechanical and barrier properties to commercially used PVC films used in food and pharmaceutical packaging. This will help overcome the disadvantages of plastic packaging materials, BARC said in a release.
BARC said it is carrying out the scale-up of this technology at the incubation centre of BARC with Veena Industries, Nagpur to develop products as per market requirement.
While scaling up this technology, emphasis will be given to develop economically viable and user friendly product with improvement in the mechanical and barrier product of the film. BARC will apply suitable dose of Gamma radiation to the raw material to improve its mechanical and barrier properties such as tensile strength and water vapour transmission rate.
BARC will provide its technical know-how and infrastructure, whereas, Veena industries will provide market research, manpower and material at its own cost for the incubation plan. Finally, the technology developed will be licensed to Veena Industries.
It may be noted that packaging constitutes the largest market for plastics, amounting to over 12 million tons per year. Synthetic packaging materials are made up of petroleum-based products, which are non-biodegradable and non-renewable. Large scale use of such packaging material is thus a major environmental concern. This has led to a search for packaging material that are biodegradable as well as recyclable.
One of the alternative is the development of packaging material from biopolymers that are biodegradable, non-toxic and from completely renewable resources.
Major limitation in the use of biopolymers as packaging materials are their relatively poor mechanical and barrier properties such as tensile strength and water-vapour transmission rate as compared to their non-biodegradable counterparts.