15 March 2022
by Alex Brinded

Packaging made from apple waste

US researchers claim to have found a method to use apple waste as an effective fibre source in moulded pulp packaging.

researcher looking at a sheet of apple pomace
Yanyun Zhao, an Oregon State University professor, led the research into fruit and vegetable by-products for packaging © Oregon State University

Oregon State University, USA, researchers have turned apple waste into a packaging material.

The team received a patent for their research after studying apple pomace and by-products from fruit processing, vegetable juice and winemaking as an alternative for recycled newspaper in moulded pulp manufacturing.

Chosen for its availability apple pomace, is the 25-30% of an apple that is left over after the majority is processed into juice.

The scientists needed a bio-based, compostable and cost-effective solution to withstand high moisture, liquid food or non-food items, and high humidity conditions.

Superhydrophobic coatings were used for the product surface and polymers and compounds were put into the pulp, including lignin, chitosan and glycerol.

Rhubarb pomace was used as it is a source of lignin while chitosan is a bio-based polymer commonly used in the paper industry. The team had previously found that chitosan significantly reduced water absorpotion of cellulose nanofibre films, and previous studies had shown low levels of glycerol to decrease water absorption.

The research team envisage the apple pomace being the used for take-out containers, flower pots, beverage cartons and bottles and clamshell packaging used for fruits and vegetables. 

Authors

Alex Brinded

Staff Writer