A Life Cycle Assessment of Protein-based Bioplastics for Food Packaging Applications
A relatively new area of materials science and polymer chemistry is searching for proteins from biomass as a potential source of raw material in the production of plastics. When proteins are utilized in the production of a given plastic, this plastic is then classified as a bioplastic. This lack of biodegradability of traditional food packaging plastics also results in the gradual leaching of plastics from land to the ocean. One protein of interest is the albumin protein that is derived from the egg of a hen, which contains the lysozyme enzyme. When the lysozyme is isolated from the albumin protein, it is determined that the enzyme will exhibit antibacterial activity against bacteria that is common in spoiled food such as Listeria monocytogenes. To produce a bioplastic, it is necessary to first denature a protein in order to change its raw globular form to a more linear structure.