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Advancing bio-based materials for sustainable solutions to food packaging


The unprecedented accumulation of plastic waste forms a serious threat to the biosphere, and current recycling efforts are not living up to their promise. Replacements for synthetic plastics are therefore critically needed, which has led to a rapid growth in research surrounding the development of sustainable materials, such as bioproducts. Still, commercialization has been limited, as knowledge gaps separating publicly funded research from industrial implementation need to be overcome. The food-packaging sector is currently undergoing drastic transformations in phasing out plastics and can therefore provide a blueprint for catalysing the adoption of bioproducts that could be applicable to other sectors.

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Fig. 1: Main challenges in the adoption of new bio-based systems by different industrial streams.
Fig. 2: Solutions proposed to optimize experimental designs for integrating and implementing findings on bio-based systems.
Fig. 3: Workflow for researching bio-based materials and implementing them into the packaging sector as associated with Table 1 and Supplementary Table 2.


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This work received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 788489, ‘BioElCell’). J.J.R. is the recipient of an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (project no. FT210100669) funded by the Australian government and JSPS Fellowship P20373 from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science. B.L.T. is the recipient of the Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KUST) Faculty Startup Project (Project: FSU-2022-021).

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B.L.T., L.G.G., J.J.R. and J.B. contributed to the conceptualization, investigation and writing of the original draft. J.G. and O.J.R. discussed and edited the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Blaise L. Tardy.

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Nature Sustainability thanks Ramesh P. Babu, Run-Cang Sun and Yael Vodovotz for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Tables 1–3, Fig. 1 and Discussions 1–6.

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Tardy, B.L., Richardson, J.J., Greca, L.G. et al. Advancing bio-based materials for sustainable solutions to food packaging. Nat Sustain 6, 360–367 (2023).

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