CEDENNA organizes numerous outreach activities, including conferences, talks, competitions, schools, seminars and exhibitions, to present its work to the general community, generating greater interest in science among the youth of our country.

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Nanorefolding to improve plastic containers and make them biodegradable and recyclable

October 6, 2019

This Wednesday 9, Cedenna researcher Ana Carolina López de Dicastillo will explain how nanotechnology contributes to the production of sustainable packaging and bags that reduce contamination by discarded plastics after a single use, and how society should guide the way it deals waste to a circular system that considers reuse, in a free talk at the Chilean Academy of Sciences, at 6.30 pm.

During the last years, the environmental situation became one of the main concerns of citizens, governments and industries around the world, and the reason seems to be justified: every second, more than 200 kilos of garbage goes to the oceans and much of this pollution corresponds to plastics that are discarded after a single use. This is why innovations in the development of sustainable packaging have become fundamental for the protection of the planet.

On this subject, precisely, the next talk of the “Spring in the Academy” cycle will be based on Wednesday, October 9, at 6:30 p.m., at the Chilean Academy of Sciences, and will be given by the researcher of the Center for the Development of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Cedenna and academic of the University of Santiago, Dr. Ana Carolina López de Dicastillo.

Under the title “Nanotechnology as a tool for the development of sustainable packaging”, the paper will address the methods for the production of more environmentally friendly materials. “There are two ways to generate this type of sustainable packaging,” explains Dr. López de Dicastillo, “one is based on the use of biodegradable materials and the other is about recycling. However, both have a drawback: in order for them to work, it is necessary to improve their properties and that is achieved through the incorporation of nanorefers”.

The nano-reinforcements are particles, on a nanometric scale, that can improve the properties (mechanical, thermal and other) of biodegradable or recycled materials, in order to match their functionality to that of the classic oil-derived contaminant containers.

“There are nanorefers of inorganic origin, such as the nano-clays that we are using in recycled polymers, and also of organic origin, such as cellulose nanocrystals to improve the properties of polylactic acid, a biodegradable polymer,” details the researcher.

Degradation
The problem of common plastic is that a bag takes about 150 years to degrade and a PET plastic bottle, widely used in beverage containers, can take 400 to more than 1,000 years to disappear.

“The vast majority of plastics that are currently marketed are petroleum derivatives and have very high degradation times. That is generating great environmental pollution due to the accumulation of waste, and the most surprising thing is that many of these plastics could be reused before being discarded at first use. That is why we have to orient our way of life towards a circular system, which considers the reuse of materials”, warns Dr. Ana Carolina.

To try to deal with this worrying reality of environmental pollution, in Chile the Producer’s Extended Responsibility Law (REP) or Recycling Law is being implemented which, by 2030, will force companies to recycle almost half of the plastic containers . Also, recently, the government and companies with a presence in the country, signed the “Pact for Plastics” which also establishes commitments for the reduction of pollution by this type of materials.

“For all these challenges it is essential to improve the properties of biodegradable. And in the laboratory we managed to increase the percentage or even work with 100% recycled material by incorporating nanorefuerzos ”, says the researcher and academic of the Department of Food Science and Technology of the University of Santiago.

Recyclable, biodegradable and reusable.
All these topics will be present in the talk on Wednesday 9, which will be free and aimed at all types of audiences.
“It will be an interesting talk globally, both for food engineers or chemical engineers who want to know about materials science, but also for current consumers who, throughout the world, already understand the scope of the concept of recycling, in addition of the need to eliminate single-use bags and plastics (such as light bulbs), and also the difference between biodegradable material and reusable bags. All these issues will be addressed and explained in this exhibition, ”says Dr. López de Dicastillo.

The conference “Nanotechnology as a tool for the development of sustainable packaging” will be held on Wednesday 9, at 6:30 p.m., at the headquarters of the Chilean Academy of Sciences.

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