Novel Features of Cellulose-Based Films as Sustainable Alternatives for Food Packaging
Packaging plays an important role in food quality and safety, especially regarding waste and spoilage reduction. The main drawback is that the packaging industry is among the ones that is highly dependent on plastic usage. New alternatives to conventional plastic packaging such as biopolymers-based type are mandatory. Examples are cellulose films and its derivatives. These are among the most used options in the food packaging due to their unique characteristics, such as biocompatibility, environmental sustainability, low price, mechanical properties, and biodegradability. Emerging concepts such as active and intelligent packaging provides new solutions for an extending shelf-life, and it fights some limitations of cellulose films and improves the properties of the packaging. This article reviews the available cellulose polymers and derivatives that are used as sustainable alternatives for food packaging regarding their properties, characteristics, and functionalization towards active properties enhancement. In this way, several types of films that are prepared with cellulose and their derivatives, incorporating antimicrobial and antioxidant compounds, are herein described, and discussed.