Graphene-enhanced packaging: a breakthrough for sustainability and innovation
Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre 25th July 2023
The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre brought together leading experts and industry professionals to explore how graphene could be the answer to the packaging industry’s quest for sustainability and efficiency.
The Packaging Industry has always been on the lookout for groundbreaking technologies that not only meet the demands of the market but also address pressing environmental concerns. In the pursuit of sustainability and net-zero goals, a recent seminar at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) at the University of Manchester shed light on graphene’s potential in revolutionising packaging applications.
Graphene, first isolated at the University of Manchester in 2004, has emerged as a game-changer in materials research and development, and its unique properties hold the promise of transforming the packaging industry in various ways:
- Enhancing barrier properties: Incorporating graphene into packaging materials acts as an exceptional barrier, preventing oxygen, moisture, and other contaminants from reaching the packaged products. This extends the shelf life of goods, reduces food waste, and enhances product quality.
- Boosting mechanical strength: Graphene’s extraordinary strength and durability enhance the mechanical properties of packaging materials, ensuring products are well-protected throughout the supply chain.
- Lightweighting for sustainability: Graphene enables lightweight packaging without compromising strength and performance. This reduction in weight leads to decreased transportation costs, improved fuel efficiency, and minimised carbon emissions.
- Anti-bacterial properties: Graphene’s inherent anti-bacterial properties reduce the risk of contamination for perishable products, extending shelf life and maintaining product freshness.
- Environmentally sustainable solutions: The adoption of graphene in packaging enables the use of thinner and lighter materials without sacrificing performance, resulting in lower waste generation and a decreased environmental footprint.
- Pioneering smart packaging: Graphene’s remarkable electrical conductivity allows for the integration of sensors and electronics into packaging. Real-time monitoring of temperature, humidity, and freshness becomes possible, ensuring better product safety and traceability.
- Facilitating recycling efforts: Graphene’s stability allows it to be added to packaging with minimal effect on recyclability, ensuring the benefits of graphene-enhanced packaging do not compromise existing recycling systems.
The Seminar: Unveiling the Potential of Graphene in Packaging
The seminar hosted by the GEIC provided an in-depth exploration of graphene’s applications in the packaging industry. Participants enjoyed insightful presentations by GEIC’s technologists and renowned packaging experts, delving into the diverse possibilities graphene presents.
The event’s agenda included informative sessions like “Graphene 101,” where Dr. Nicky Savjani, Application Manager at GEIC, introduced the audience to graphene and its packaging applications. Dr. Gloria Guidetti, the Materials and Enabling Technologies Manager at Tetra Pak Packaging Solutions, offered an end-user perspective and discussed potential development opportunities for graphene-enhanced packaging.
Additionally, Dr. Happiness Ijije and John Vickers, application specialists in graphene composites and coatings at the GEIC, explained the role of graphene in enhancing barriers against oxygen, moisture, and other contaminants, opening new avenues for sustainable packaging solutions.
Throughout the event, participants had the opportunity to network and exchange ideas, fostering collaboration and sparking innovation within the packaging industry.
The Future of Packaging: Graphene’s Influence
The significance of graphene in packaging applications cannot be understated. From bolstering barrier properties, reinforcing mechanical strength, and enabling real-time monitoring through smart packaging solutions, the potential of graphene-enhanced materials is groundbreaking.
In a thought-provoking statement during the seminar, James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester, highlighted the great potential of graphene in revolutionising the packaging industry. He stated, “As the packaging industry strives to overcome the challenges of sustainability and embrace a net-zero future, graphene emerges as a beacon of hope and innovation.
Through joint efforts between academia, industry experts, and research institutions, the full potential of graphene can be harnessed to create graphene-enhanced packaging that becomes the cornerstone of a greener, more efficient, and innovative future for the packaging industry.”
He added, “Embracing this cutting-edge technology and being part of this collaborative eco-system can help the packaging industry pave the way in adopting sustainability practices without compromise and achieve the net-zero goals that are crucial for our planet’s well-being. As graphene continues to unveil its possibilities, the GEIC’s role in driving research and facilitating industry partnerships will undoubtedly shape a more sustainable future for the packaging sector, benefitting both businesses and the global environment.”
If you’re interested in learning more about graphene applications in packaging or exploring potential collaborations, the GEIC’s team of experts are ready to provide further information and assist you on your journey towards innovative and eco-friendly packaging solutions. Contact the GEIC today to embark on this transformative path together! Let’s create a greener and more efficient packaging future with graphene.