Fully Biobased Polyhydroxyalkanoate/Tannin Films as Multifunctional Materials for Smart Food Packaging Applications

M Ferri, K Papchenko, M Degli Esposti, G Tondi, MG De Angelis, D Morselli, Paola Fabbri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Fully biobased and biodegradable materials have attracted a growing interest in the food packaging sector as they can help to reduce the negative impact of fossil-based plastics on the environment. Moreover, the addition of functionalities to these materials by introducing active molecules has become an essential requirement to create modern packaging able to extend food's shelf-life while informing the consumer about food quality and freshness. In this study, we present an innovative bioplastic formulation for food packaging based on poly(hydroxybutyrate- co-valerate) (PHBV) and tannins as multifunctional additives. As a proof of concept, PHBV/tannin films were prepared by solvent casting, increasing the tannin content from 1 to 10 per hundred of resin (phr). Formic acid was used to reach a homogeneous distribution of the hydrophilic tannins into hydrophobic PHBV, which is remarkably challenging by using other solvents. Thanks to their well-known properties, the effect of tannins on the antioxidant, UV protection, and gas barrier properties of PHBV was evaluated. Samples containing 5 phr bioadditive revealed the best combination of these properties, also maintaining good transparency. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) investigations revealed that films are suitable for application from the fridge to potentially high temperatures for food heating (up to 200 °C). Tensile tests have also shown that Young's modulus (900-1030 MPa) and tensile strength (20 MPa) are comparable with those of the common polymers and biopolymers for packaging. Besides the improvement of the PHBV properties for extending food's shelf-life, it was also observed that PHBV/tannin could colorimetrically detect ammonia vapors, thus making this material potentially applicable as a smart indicator for food spoilage (e.g., detection of fish degradation). The presented outcomes suggest that tannins can add multifunctional properties to a polymeric material, opening up a new strategy to obtain an attractive alternative to petroleum-based plastics for smart food packaging applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28594-28605
Number of pages12
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number23
Early online date2 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Active packaging
  • Biobased additive
  • Biodegradable polymer
  • Food packaging
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoates
  • Smartpackaging
  • Tannins
  • Biopolymers/chemistry
  • Animals
  • Food Packaging
  • Plastics
  • food packaging
  • biodegradable polymer
  • biobased additive
  • smart packaging
  • active packaging
  • polyhydroxyalkanoates
  • tannins


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