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Clarkson University Develops Sustainable 3D Printed Packaging that Detects Freshness

Researchers at Clarkson University in New York, US, have received a $42,000 grant from The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute as part of an inaugural student and faculty research program: food spoilage mitigation through packaging.

The team of student researchers has developed a packaging product that is not only sustainable, but that can detect the freshness of the food in storage. With its inherent multifunctional capabilities, the packaging product is set to not only monitor and uphold food quality and freshness but also extend the shelf life, significantly curbing food waste.

The ‘smart’ food packaging features a renewable and biodegradable material made using a 3D printer and is said to be as strong as plastic. It is intended to notify shoppers when food is at its best by changing colors based on the freshness of the food.

The team has successfully conducted comprehensive assessments of the packaging’s antimicrobial and sensory attributes, affirming its efficacy. The 3D printing technique employed by the team will also enable the efficient large-scale production of this groundbreaking solution.

Silvana Andreescu, professor of chemical and biomolecular science at Clarkson University, told a US news outlet: “This happens because there are chemical markers that are released as meat and fish degrade. And this marker, we are incorporating indicators. We are printing indicators within the packaging that will tell you when it’s okay or not okay to consume particular foods.”

Oluwatosin Popoola, a Clarkson graduate student and leader of the student research team, said: “If we can generate a biodegradable material that can eventually replace plastic materials, this will possibly reduce or even prevent the pollution that plastic material is generating right now”.