team photo

Figure 1
project photo

Figure 2
project photo


Team 17

Team Members

Faculty Advisor

Mahamadsaad Vahora
Alain Olhaberry
Sebastian Corales

Luyi Sun

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Sustainable Polymer Packaging

Plastic waste is growing rapidly and is the main culprit of municipal solid waste management (MSW). In 2018, waste from plastic containers and packaging amounted to 14.5 million tons. Additionally, most of the packaging was made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) which can take hundreds of years to decompose and break down. The majority of all plastics formed are single-use plastics; meaning that we throw them away as soon as we’re done with them, resulting in massive environmental issues. The goal of this project is to find alternative sustainable materials that can be easily composted, recycled, and mass-produced. Current research and developments have found alternatives such as polylactic acid (PLA) and polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) which are bio-based polymers made from abundant renewable resources. Our group focused on paper, coated with nanoparticles as the sustainable material. The biggest challenge with determining a proper alternative is finding a polymer with the same strengths as traditional plastic film. After filtering through modern research being developed in this area, we have gathered information on different types of packaging films. Overall, what we want to do is to further develop the potential of using bio-based polymers as an alternative to single-use plastics. In doing so, we can provide a sustainable alternative to reduce municipal solid waste resulting from packaging.

Our team collaborated with Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 18 on this project.