Qeen University is part of a research project on compostable packaging
Belfast is expected to be the center of a potential revolution in sustainable plastic-free packaging.
Queen’s University Belfast is planning a major three-year research project into new biodegradable materials that can be 3D printed, used and reused as protective packaging and disposed of as compost for food.
Most current packaging materials such as expanded polystyrene are neither compostable nor reusable.
At this week’s Belfast City Council meeting of the People and Communities Committee (Tuesday August 10), council agents revealed the plan, along with a request from the university for team support awareness raising on recycling by the local authority.
Queen’s, in partnership with the University of Southampton, is in the final stages of applying for UK government funding to complete the project.
The council’s report states: “The project aims to develop new foams that can be 3D printed in custom protective packaging for transporting products, for example in e-commerce. The foam materials will be derived from biomass and degradable into useful end products so that they can be used in a circular and sustainable manner (eg, producing compost for growing food).
“The ultimate goal would be to develop a replacement for current packaging materials like expanded polystyrene, which are not recyclable or made from renewable resources.”
The report states that Belfast Council “will provide information on the requirements for implementing new protective packaging solutions that are sustainable from the perspective of municipal waste management systems, and associated public policies and education.” .
The council will also provide feedback on the project, organize surveys and workshops, connect the university with waste management and treatment companies, and promote public awareness and education activities.
A council member told elected officials: “The project cuts across a number of Belfast City Council goals and is quite interesting work.