Recent Advances in Chemically Modified Cellulose and Its Derivatives for Food Packaging Applications: A Review
The application of cellulose in the food packaging field has gained increasing attention in recent years, driven by the desire for sustainable products. Cellulose can replace petroleum-based plastics because it can be converted to biodegradable and nontoxic polymers from sustainable natural resources. These products have increasingly been used as coatings, self-standing films, and paperboards in food packaging, owing to their promising mechanical and barrier properties. However, their utilization is limited because of the high hydrophilicity of cellulose. With the presence of a large quantity of functionalities within pristine cellulose and its derivatives, these building blocks provide a unique platform for chemical modification via covalent functionalization to introduce stable and permanent functionalities to cellulose. A primary aim of chemical attachment is to reduce the probability of component leaching in wet and softened conditions and to improve the aqueous, oil, water vapor, and oxygen barriers, thereby extending its specific use in the food packaging field. However, chemical modification may affect the desirable mechanical, thermal stabilities and biodegradability exhibited by pristine cellulose. This review exhaustively reports the research progress on cellulose chemical modification techniques and prospective applications of chemically modified cellulose for use in food packaging, including active packaging.