Cellulose - An Eco Friendly Approach in Food Packing Industries
Plastic is one of the most widely used materials in the packaging for food items due to its low cost. But its pollution and degradation are a global concern now. Environmentalists are looking for an alternative option for protecting mother earth from the pollution. Recent studies have focused on use of natural products for packaging. Biopolymers like cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin are among the most preferred natural polymer. Cellulose is the most abundant organic matter found in plants, giving strength and protection to the plant. Cellulose itself along with its various derivatives namely cellulose acetate, cellulose sulfate, carboxymethyl cellulose, ethyl cellulose, methyl cellulose and nanocellulose have gained attention now days as better alternate for packaging industries. It must be noted that cellulose can be easily obtained from plants’ waste like rice bran, sugar cane baggase, cotton, coconut fiber and dead plants. They can be easily and economically converted into its derivative by various simple reactions. After its use in the packaging, it can be easily disposed in the environment without much effort. Microorganisms present in the soil with capability of cellulose degradation degrade them and convert into non-hazardous and useful compounds. Alternatively, these used packaging materials can be used as a raw material for large scale production of cellulase enzyme-a group of enzymes having wide applications in food industries, agriculture industries, paper and pulp industries, textile industries, laundry and detergent industries, and medical field.