This technology is a process for preparing biodegradable resins comprised of corn zein and fatty acids and forming the resins into sheets, thin films, and similar products useful in a broad range of food packaging and agricultural applications. Corn zein-based Biodegradable Resins present an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic.
Zein resins are new products derived from corn zein. Zein, a family of proteins found in corn, is solvent extracted, mixed with long chain fatty acids, chilled, washed and kneaded to form a moldable biodegradable plastic which can be extruded immediately to form products or pellitized for later use. Pellets can be stored or shipped to plastic mills to be formed into highly useable, edible, biodegradable, environmentally friendly products.
- Consumer Replacement for plastic packaging materials such as trash and grocery bags; shrink films used to protect palletized products; food wraps used to prevent spoilage; or disposable food service ware such as plates, bowls, and cups.
- Agricultural Weed Control: Rolled films produced from zein resin can be applied to planting beds or placed between row crops to prevent weeds. Since the product is fully biodegradable, there's no need to remove the preventative layer at the end of the growing season; saving time and money.
- Cover for Round Hay Bales: Zein-based resin films can be used to protect hay bales from spoiling. Zein-based resins are completely edible; therefore, films do not need to be removed prior to their use.
- Horticulture Containers manufactured from zein-based resins go directly from the green-house to a consumer's garden or planting bed, saving disposal of traditional plastic pots.
- Multiple End-Use Products: Products manufactured from zein-based resins can be extruded, blown, or injection molded into a wide variety of forms. Examples include trays, bowls, clamshells, films which can be used for wraps and/or laminated, and edible hay bale wrappers.
- Desirable Production Characteristics: Zein bioplastics are flexible, tough, heat sealable, able to accept color pigmentation, and producible in varying degrees of oxygen and carbon dioxide permeability.
- Fully Biodegradable: Unlike commodity plastics that do not degrade, products manufactured from zein-based resins are completely biodegradable by native soil microflora; leaving no residual materials to dispose of or fear of ingestion by wildlife or production animals.
- Abundance of Raw Material: Zein resins are derived from corn. Zein-based resins are categorized by the FDA as "Generally Recognized as Safe" (GRAS): Products manufactured from zein-based resins can be used to package and/or protect food stuffs.