New This Month

A Dynamic Duo—Crab Shells and Cellulose May Help Save the Planet

A new, sustainable alternative to plastic wrap might be coming soon. 

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Photography by: Getty Images

The Georgia Institute of Technology has created an alternative material for plastic packaging— they've combined crab shells and cellulose from trees. That's great news but don't run to your grocery store just yet. The plastic alternative requires research and testing before it can be released to the public. 

 

Using cellulose nanocrystals, obtained from trees, and chitin, which comes from the shells of arthropods such as crabs, this clear and stretchy film reduces oxygen permeability up to 67%. So another benefit of this new plastic alternative is that it will mean packaged foods last longer on the shelf.

 

The unlikely mixture is unique as neither material can be found together in nature. In the process, chitin, a result of shellfish processing, and cellulose, obtained from the paper manufacturing industry, are laminated together to form a compact and thin film that is 100% compostable.

 

This long-needed invention follows in the tracks of mega-companies, such as McDonald's, Starbucks, Pret a Manger, and Disney, who have vouched to reduce the use of single-use plastic straws and other items in the following years.