Scientists from universities around Australia are developing cornstarch as a cost competitive substitute for plastics. A Melbourne-based company, Plantic Technologies, plans to market the new material and set up a manufacturing plant in Victoria or Queensland. 

Plantic’s Managing Director and CEO, David MacInnes, spoke to Curve, about this cutting edge, environmentally friendly packaging material.

Cornstarch can be thermoformed or injection moulded using existing processing technologies and equipment. Its most obvious application is in the dry food packaging market, according to MacInnes.

Packaging made from cornstarch is fully biodegradable and easily disposed of by composting or incineration. Cornstarch is a renewable and sustainable resource and economically stands out as it is cost competitive with products made from petrochemicals.

MacInnes says cornstarch has superior handling characteristics to standard plastics. The material is self-sealing, amenable to high resolution printing and has little or no odour or tainting. It can be coloured using food dyes. Scents can also easily be added.

The material also has applications in agricultural crop maintenance. A black agricultural film, that is used to cover crops to suppress weeds, can be ploughed into the soil after crop harvesting and then degrades after six weeks.

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