Polyhydroxyalkanoates as packaging materials: current applications and future prospects

Document Type

Book chapter

Publication details

Yee, LH & Foster, LJR 2015, 'Polyhydroxyalkanoates as packaging materials: current applications and future prospects ', in I Roy & PM Visakh (eds), Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) based blends, composites and nanocomposites, RSC Green Chemistry, no. 30, Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK. ISBN: 9781849739467

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Packaging serves a number of essential functions and conventional thermoplastics derived from fossil fuels are dominant in the packaging industry. However, there are serious issues with their environmental persistence and the leaching of their various additives. In contrast, the use of natural, biodegradable bioplastics supports sustainable development. The family of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) offers versatility in the properties required for plastic packaging. While their biodegradation ensures the continued development of PHAs for sustainable packaging, researchers are also using this property for the controlled release of agricultural agents such as herbicides and pesticides. Similarly, the biocompatibility and FDA approval have supported the investigation of PHAs in the packaging and delivery of pharmaceutical agents and cells for medical applications. Thus, PHAs have been used to produce value-added packaging with properties beyond current plastics while promoting an environmentally friendly alternative for a sustainable future. This chapter summarises the requirements for sustainable packaging and how the properties of PHAs support their continued development in their environmentally-friendly medical packaging applications.