Welcome to Alumni & Corporate Relations
IIT-M develops anti-bacterial pro-environment food wrap

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, have developed an environment-friendly anti-bacterial food wrapping material that is also fit for consumption.

According to the team, which has also filed a patent for the wrapper, its product can tackle two major problems — prevent packaged food contamination by bacteria and reduce the plastic waste generated in the environment when disposing the wrappers.

“We have developed a biodegradable wrapping material with in-built anti-bacterial activity to prevent bacterial growth in stored food. It degrades at various environmental conditions with the rate of degradation varying from 4 to 98 per cent in 21 days, thus playing a major role in plastic waste reduction,” said Mukesh Doble, Professor, Department of Biotechnology.

The films developed by researchers were made with polymeric blends containing starch, polyvinyl alcohol, cyclic beta glycans (CBG). The composition was optimised to achieve the best film with a smooth texture, flexibility, uniform thickness and good clarity.

“Our anti-bacterial coated polymer wrapper was used for wrapping paneer, meat and chicken and its performance was tested. Samples were placed in 4 degrees Celsius and 30 degrees Celsius for 10 days and tested for the effect of the coating on reducing the bacterial growth with respect to the uncoated wrapper,” said Puja Kumari, research scholar at IIT Madras.

“Our study found that 99.999 per cent reduction in bacterial colonies was observed in food samples wrapped with our anti-bacterial wrap and stored at 30 degrees Celsius for 10 days when compared with a plain wrapper. This study also suggests that our anti-microbial wrapper can, to some extent overcome, the reduced availability of cold storage units,” she added.

Packaging is projected to grow into a US$72.6 billion industry in India by 2020 from about US$31 billion in 2015, with a proportionate rise in waste volumes. According to a report by World Economic Forum, if no immediate steps are taken, oceans may have more plastic than fish (in terms of weight) by 2050.