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Crab Shells Could Greatly Reduce Pollution

An inexpensive biomaterial that may be used to sustainably replace plastic barrier coatings in packaging has been developed by Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) researchers, who predict its adoption would greatly reduce pollution.

The completely biodegradable material is comprised of nearly equal parts of treated cellulose pulp from wood or cotton, and chitosan, the primary ingredient in the exoskeletons of crabs, lobsters, and shrimp.

According to Penn State scientist, Jeffrey Catchmark: “These environmentally friendly barrier coatings have numerous applications ranging from water-resistant paper to food coatings to seal in freshness. The potential reduction of pollution is immense if these barrier coatings replace millions of tons of petroleum-based plastic associated with food packaging used every year in the United States.”

NIFA supports the research through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, and the Hatch Act funding.

Read the full story at Penn State.

Want to read about more impacts like this? Check out Fresh from the Field, a weekly bulletin showcasing transformative impacts made by grantees funded by NIFA.

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