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Challenges associated with cleaning plastic food packaging for reuse

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journal contribution
posted on 20.09.2022, 12:30 authored by Samsun NaharSamsun Nahar, Mala Sian, Ryan LarderRyan Larder, Fiona HattonFiona Hatton, Elliot WoolleyElliot Woolley

Reuse of plastic packaging for food is a promising route to reduce the environmental burdens but presents particular challenges due to the need to avoid cross contamination of contents. This study investigates the challenges associated with cleaning and assessing existing recycled PET (rPET) food-to-go (FTG) pack forms and provides recommendations to enable a shift towards reusable food packaging systems. Pack forms were fouled under controlled conditions and washed in accordance published guidelines. Three fouling media were selected to represent food residue typically found in FTG packs. Investigated parameters included fouling type and quality, wash and rinse times, and detergent dosage. Cleanliness was assessed using adenosine triphosphate (ATP) swabbing and the effect on the material properties was studied via tensile testing, IR spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry. The results demonstrate that cleaning effectiveness is dependent on the quantity of fouling, the duration of the wash cycle and the dosing of detergent indicating the potential to optimise parameters for different fouling conditions. It is also concluded that ATP testing is an inappropriate cleanliness assessment method for food packaging due to many opportunities for it to produce false negative readings, its high cost and slow response. The rPET material properties remained largely unchanged apart from a slight increase in stiffness, however packaging suffered significant deformation.

Funding

DTP 2020-2021 Loughborough University

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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Perpetual Plastic for Food to Go (PPFTG)

Natural Environment Research Council

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History

School

  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering
  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Department

  • Materials

Published in

Waste

Volume

1

Issue

1

Pages

21 - 39

Publisher

MDPI

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by MDPI under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Acceptance date

09/09/2022

Publication date

2022-09-16

Copyright date

2022

eISSN

2813-0391

Language

en

Depositor

Dr Samsun Nahar. Deposit date: 12 September 2022