Whey protein, a milk protein that is a byproduct of cheese production, is often used in protein bars and shakes, but scientists in Barcelona have discovered that it can also be made into a more sustainable plastic for food packaging.
The WheyLayer project was funded by the European Commission to find an alternative to petroleum sources in food packaging. Through this project, research company IRIS found that whey protein could replace synthetic petroleum-based polymers. The whey protein plastic has similar oxygen-blocking properties to traditional food packaging, but it's cheaper to make and, even better, more easily recyclable.
Traditional plastic packaging is hard to recycle because the petroleum-based polymers are almost impossible to separate for individual recycling, but with the whey protein plastic, the whey can be removed with enzymes so that the remaining film can be recycled or reused in new packaging.
This process also keeps the 40 percent of whey protein discarded by European cheese factories out of landfills.
written by Brother Phil, September 11, 2011
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