An EU research project has claimed it is using cutting-edge technology to develop natural-fibre based food packaging to replace materials based on petrochemicals such as polymers.

Professor Chris Breen of Sheffield Hallam University, a member of the EU’s “Sustainpack” project, said his team was incorporating tiny nano-clay particles in biopolymer films to make them as water resistant as standard polymer packaging.

To make them “more compatible with, and disperse throughout the biopolymer films, to effectively repel water molecules”, Prof Breen’s researchers are modifying the nanoclays using a molecule called ‘chitosan’.

The molecule, Prof Breen, added “is derived from the shells of crustaceans, such as crabs and lobsters”.