Michgian State University,
Keywords: close loop, recycllable, water and oil resitant paper, plastic free cup
Summary:Currently, paper products are the number 1 contributor to the municipal solid waste in the United States because of the existing wasteful open loop circular economy practices. The current paper coatings are relying on the use of non-degradable plastic or latex that are difficult to separate from the pulp at the recycling stage. Often, fluorinated materials are also added to make paper more oil resistant, which is causing environmental pollution. Our research team has developed a Closed Loop Circular Economy Approach for Oil- and Water-Resistant Paper Products. Our innovative strategy relies on reversible binding of the coating to the paper that is easily separated from the paper products at the repulping stage. The fabricated papers can be used for plastic-free cups, disposable plates and trays. This technology offers an inexpensive, scalable and recyclable approach towards water- and grease/oil-resistant paper that will 1) reduce the extensive loss of pulp and minimize damage to the environment and ecosystem, 2) will reduce the use of energy and water used for generating new pulp from trees, and 3) will help the planet by eliminating the use of unfriendly paper coating practices (lamination, latex, fluorinated chemicals). Thus, we are confident that this innovation in recovery will promote sustainable packaging.