The Curcol project is all about using novel dyes extracted from locally grown turmeric plants and using them into packaging materials. But packaging is more than the wrap. It’s printed with information and decorations too. That’s why the Curcol project also investigates the use of biobased and biodegradable printing inks in combination with the curcumin derived colorants.
In order to be as environmentally friendly as possible, the consortium not only looks at the inks, but also the printing techniques. Besides traditional printing techniques also a digital printing process is used because they use less ink, are more precise, have less waste and can be applied for small production runs.
Of course we follow up every step a potential biodegradable packaging follows. This includes recyclability and biodegradability. We try to design the inks and dye concentrations in such a way that both the inks ánd the pigments are home compostable. A true innovation for the packaging printing industry!
Yet challenges remain. The colorant for example still needs extensive stabilization, because currently it degrades too fast. In general this is the key difficulty with projects developing biodegradable items. The products need to be biodegradable, durable and recyclable at the same time. A challenging task the Curcol team is happy to tackle!
A digital printing process
The biodegradation process followed during the first three weeks show that areas printed with the biodegradable inks are first to degrade. The prints were applied on a thermoplastic starch packaging material.