Gelatin- and Papaya-Based Biodegradable and Edible Packaging Films to Counter Plastic Waste Generation
Most of the food packaging materials used in the market are petroleum-based plastics; such materials are neither biodegradable nor environmentally friendly and require years to decompose. To overcome these problems, biodegradable and edible materials are encouraged to be used because such materials degrade quickly due to the actions of bacteria, fungi, and other environmental effects. In this work, commonly available household materials such as gelatin, soy protein, corn starch, and papaya were used to prepare cost-effective lab-scale biodegradable and edible packaging film as an effective alternative to commercial plastics to reduce waste generation. Prepared films were characterized in terms of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), water vapor transmission rate (WVTR), optical transparency, and tensile strength. FTIR confirmed the addition of papaya and soy protein to the gelatin backbone. WVTR of the gelatin-papaya films was recorded to be less than 50 g/m2/day. This water vapor barrier was five times better than films of pristine gelatin. The gelatin, papaya, and soy protein films exhibited transparencies of around 70% in the visible region. The tensile strength of the film was 2.44 MPa, which improved by a factor of 1.5 for the films containing papaya and soy protein. The barrier qualities of the gelatin and gelatin-papaya films maintained the properties even after going through 2000 bending cycles. From the results, it is inferred that the prepared films are ideally suitable for food encapsulation and their production on a larger scale can considerably cut down the plastic wastage.