New technology allows packaging to change colour to alert consumer when product is unfit for consumption
We may soon be able to stop worrying about the risk of using products in an inappropriate state for consumption. A technology which permits packaging to communicate with the consumer, an “intelligent packaging” by Braskem, the biggest producer of thermoplastic resins in the Americas, in partnership with Clemson University in the US and Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul Federal University (UFRGS) was presented by Braskem at Interpack 2017.
Intelligent packaging uses specific indicators to demonstrate the state of conservation of its contents, emitting an external alert. The packaging will change colour to warn the consumer if the product is unfit for consumption. This technology can be used for perishable product packaging in various sectors.
In research conducted with poultry, meat and fish, for example, pH alterations determine a packaging colour change. Patrick Teyssonneyre, Braskem’s global director for Technology and Innovation, maintains that a product’s entire value chain can benefit from this technology. “This gives consumers greater quality assurance on the products they take home, and, at the same time, allows companies to control product integrity after manufacture, either during transport or at the point of sale,” he points out.
Braskem began researching intelligent packaging in 2013, concluded Proof of Concept trials in 2015, and produced the first prototypes in 2016. It currently has available capacity for further development of studies in this area with interested sectors. “Intelligent packaging needs to be customized for specific segments: this means it may be a few more years before it appears on supermarket shelves,” explains Teyssonneyre.
How does intelligent packaging work?
– Chemical substances able to react to specific indicators of product damage are added to the thermoplastic resin used in the packaging.
– When product integrity suffers any type of alteration, the packaging changes colour to alert the consumer.
So, when you think only your nose can tell whether the preserved food in your refrigerator is fit for consumption, now you can just tell it by the colour of the packaging itself. Braskem has actually made it possible by developing a way to make plastic food or beverage containers change from one colour to another when they react to the changing pH levels of their contents, a sign that certain products may be spoiling.
Even though this type of technology has existed in some form for decades, the new introduction by Braskem enables customers to benefit from this US$7 billion plastics-and-chemical company which is the largest producer in the Americas of materials that are moulded into bottle caps, jugs, reusable containers, cosmetic packaging and much more. It has production plants in Brazil, the United States, Mexico and Germany.