Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Lactips

Planet-friendly packaging made from milk protein


Novel bioplastics are home-compostable, edible, and can safely dissolve in water

Spotted: To tackle our plastic problem, packaging legislation around the world is becoming increasingly stringent, with the EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive foreseeing that, by 2030, all packaging in the region will be recyclable or reusable in a cost-effective way. Bio-based materials could play a big part in that, and the European Commission is set to outline bioplastic targets next year. 

One startup that’s already embracing the benefits of bioplastics is Lactips. The French materials engineering company spent more than 10 years creating a water-soluble, mass-producible, biodegradable material that looks and feels like plastic, but contains no fossil fuels and can be composted at home. Called CareTips, the edible material is made from all-natural ingredients, including a protein called casein that comes from milk. 

Casein has health benefits for humans as well as animals, and because it acts as a strong barrier to oxygen, fats, and mineral oils, CareTips is a great replacement for plastic packaging in the food and cosmetics industries. Because the bioplastic is food-safe, restaurants and takeaways could use CareTips-coated takeaway containers instead of polystyrene and coated paper versions. For industrial manufacturing, CareTips comes in the same pellet form as traditional plastic, making it easy to swap into operations, including injection moulding products.  

The novel bioplastic so closely mimics the properties of plastic that it can be written on, used for labelling, as a laminate on paper and cardboard packaging, and for single-use objects such as golf tees. In fact, the material is usable as a direct replacement for almost any plastic material or product. Once used, CareTips can either be composted at home or dissolved in cold or hot water. 

Organisations seeking to decarbonise their supply chains could make substantial improvements in their emissions by swapping out petroleum-based plastics for CareTips. Lactips holds six international patents for its material, and Tüv Austria Belgium has certified CareTips’ solubility and compostability. The material has also been tested specifically for its impact on marine environments and was found to leave no trace when it breaks down. 

From invasive plants to organic waste fed to fungi, Springwise’s library is full of examples of innovators replacing old materials as part of the push to eliminate plastics.

Written By: Keely Khoury




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