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Development of Starch/Keratin/Chitosan Composite Material as a Substitute for Polystyrene in Food Packaging

Perseverance Chikotsi, Lindani K. Ncube, Nqobizitha R. Sibanda, Lloyd N. Ndlovu, Nkosilathi Z. Nkomo


The increase in awareness of the environmental impact of non-biodegradable waste from food packaging, has seen manufacturers push towards initiating production of eco-friendly packaging materials. This research serves as a step forward in the direction of going green, through the development of a composite material from natural, biodegradable polymers, for use in production of packaging material for fast foods. The composite was prepared from starch and chitosan with chicken feather biofibres incorporated as reinforcement. Biofibres were extracted from chicken feathers by comminution. Chitosan and starch solutions were prepared and mixed to give the matrix forming solution. Feather biofibres were then added separately at 5, 10, 15 and 20 weight percentage to the chitosan-starch matrix. The same concentration of the matrix solution and plasticiser was maintained for all the varying biofibre percentage weights. The composites were processed by a casting/solvent evaporation method, in which they were left at room temperature to dry for 72 hours. Tests were carried out on the resultant composites with reference to the specified standards. Polypropylene films were used as the control in comparing the final results of the tests. Tests conducted were to determine weight and density, tensile strength, water vapour absorption, oil repellence and chemical compatibility of the composite films. The conducted tests indicated that the resultant composites exhibited good properties due to the biofibre reinforcement and that there is room for improvement to produce the ideal food packaging material.


Chitosan, composite, food packaging, keratin, starchHernandez CG, Cruz AC, Santos CV, Castano V. All green composites from fully renewable biopolymers. Polymers. 9 June 2014; 687–705. 2. Saravanan K. Exploration on amino acid content and morphological str

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Hernandez CG, Cruz AC, Santos CV, Castano V. All green composites from fully renewable biopolymers. Polymers. 9 June 2014; 687–705.

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