The University of Kent conducts research that promotes sustainable packaging adoption and contribute to a resilient food supply for consumers in the UK and beyond.
Recycling and composting systems:
The Schools of Physical Sciences and Biosciences aid understanding and supporting the establishment of circular packaging systems through:
- Recycling of plastic assessments.
- Plastic and Bioplastic, (and alternative material) testing for its effect on fresh produce and other postharvest approaches e.g., modified atmosphere, edible coatings, which can support the uptake of an alternative sustainable packaging for fresh produce by maintaining fresh produce quality.
- Packaging material degradation studies, including those to improve barrier properties and those to quantify breakdown of materials in the environment, including bioremediation tools for PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) microplastics.
Profiling compostable packaging raw materials:
The University of Kent plant-science team is working with the fresh produce sector to identify the plant tissues currently going directly to anaerobic digestion which could be redirected as a raw material source for biorefineries and compostable packaging developers.
The University has the facilities (e.g., GCMS, HPLC) to optimise profiling methodologies to build a clear image of the biopolymers available in the region at any one time.
Sensors and Quality Assessment:
The Schools of Engineering and Physical Science have expertise and facilities to aid the development and assessment of packaging, and the produce contained within. Quality assessment for recycled materials is supported by a range of expertise in:
- Condition Monitoring
- Digital Signal Processing
- Digital Image Processing
- and Applications of Artificial Intelligence.
In addition, the School of Physical Sciences has developed a novel detection system that is able to penetrate packaging materials to provide images of concealed objects. The combination of this scanning system with AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology can detect food fraud and provides superior classification compared to all other frequently used methods.
Supply chain support
The University of Kent’s Business school has expertise in digital and emerging technologies, and supply chain design, management, and disruptions, which feed into the resilience and sustainability of sustainable packaging production.
The Business school also has expertise in packaging and packaging related information in areas which have strong societal and public policy implications, such as food and nutrition labelling and non-branding issues.