GEORGE TOWN: Edible wrapping film made from seaweed, starch or chitosan may be Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute’s (Mardi) answer to replacing plastic wrappers for good.
Its Food Science Technology Research Centre principal research officer Dr Siah Watt Moey says the film has multiple functions and is completely edible.
“Food items are usually individually packed in plastic, aluminium or paper, which is difficult to recycle.
“This way, the item can be packaged with one of these three materials and it will dissolve in your drink or meal.
“There is diverse use to it as it is edible and can be used to pack items like instant noodles, sweets, cheese, coffee, cereal and sugar.
“Paper wrapping for fast food can be replaced with these materials as it is completely edible,” she said at the Agroinvest event yesterday.
Dr Siah said as the wrapping film was edible, there would be no worries about disposal.
She said it would completely dissolve in water and was stable in cold and ambient temperatures.
“It is also halal as it is made of plant-based ingredients, giving consumers extra nutrients when consumed,” she said.
Dr Siah said she started the research in 2012 and it was completed the following year.
“We are now good to go, but have no machinery to produce it on a large scale. We do not need new machinery as the same machines that produce plastic can be used to make the wrapping film,” she said, adding production on a large scale would cost more than plastic.
Dr Siah said seaweed could be obtained from Sabah as it was abundant there.
“We have produced wrapping film in different colours using pandan and turmeric, which is completely natural,” she said.
Earlier in his speech, Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Sim Tze Tzin also spoke on how seaweed could replace single-use plastic.
“This thin film has the capability of replacing plastic around the world, but we have not commercialised it. This is a big opportunity for us,” he said.