New Sustainable Waterproof Coating to Replace Conventional Petrochemical-Wax Coating from Packages

November 14, 2014, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Waterproof coating is not unheard of in the world of technology. It has found its field of application in many areas, one of which is cardboard boxing.

However, concerns have been raised over its sustainability and reusability as it’s found wanting in natural breakdown.

Petroleum-based wax, the commonly used waterproof coating in cardboard boxes, accounts for around 400,000 tons of non-recyclable waterproof packaging in Australia annually.

Efforts to bring down those numbers have borne fruit as researchers at Queensland University of Technology have now come up with waterproof coating that is sustainable in nature.

waterproof

The new waterproof coating is biodegradable in nature that breaks down naturally to ease the reuse and recycle process.

Lignin, a natural polymer found in most plant species, adds the water repelling trait to this coating. Its discovery wasn’t intentional, according to researchers.

Headed by Albert Tietz and Adjunct Associate Professor Les Edye’s, the researchers discovered the water-repelling feature of Lignin while carrying out research work on adding value to bagasse in sugar industry.

On further research, the team developed the sustainable coating by injecting Lignin from commercially-grown and processed grass.

Lignin-charged waterproof coating could be available for industrial use in the near future. Currently being trialed on fruit boxes in North Queensland after being tested with food packaging and prefabricated honeycomb, the coating is expected to undergoing commercialization by mid- 2015.

The innovation has been funded by QUT’s innovation arm qutbluebox, which has already contributed around $250,000 for the development of this waterproof coating.

The industrial-scale trials would be funded by Black Sheep Capital  and the innovation arm hopes to license the coating to various companies so as to replace the petrochemical-based wax coating from the packages.

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