• (Above): Two 14-day-old bananas – the banana on the left is protected by a cellulose coating. Image credit:Manifesto Films, Lidl Schweiz
    (Above): Two 14-day-old bananas – the banana on the left is protected by a cellulose coating. Image credit:Manifesto Films, Lidl Schweiz
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Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technologies (Empa) and retailer Lidl Switzerland have teamed up to develop a cellulose protective coating for fruit and vegetables, based on renewable raw materials.

The coating does not change the appearance of the fruit and vegetables, and helps the produce stay fresh for longer, with the  potential to reduce food waste.

The cellulose coating, is produced from pomace and converted into fibrillated cellulose.
The cellulose coating is produced from
pomace and converted into fibrillated cellulose. 
Image credit: Manifesto Films, Lidl Schweiz

The Empa researchers spent a year in their Cellulose & Wood Materials laboratory developing the special protective cellulose coating, which is produced from pomace (the solid residue left over after extracting the juice from fruit, vegetables or plants), and converted it into fibrillated cellulose.

Previously, pomace was disposed of in biogas plants or directly on grassland. Used as a protective coating, it can either be sprayed onto the fruit, or applied to the produce as a dip, and is easy to wash off.

The cellulose coating is said to be harmless if eaten, and there is the potential for supplements such as vitamins or antioxidants to be added to it in the future.

Empa researcher Kevin DeFrance works on the protective coating. Image credit: Manifesto Films, Lidl Schweiz
Empa researcher Kevin DeFrance
works on the coating.
Image credit: Manifesto Films, Lidl Schweiz

"The big goal is that such bio-coatings will be able to replace a lot of petroleum-based packaging in the future," said Gustav Nyström, head of the Empa research department.

The coating, developed at Empa, will be tested and further improved over the next two years with Lidl Switzerland and a fruit and vegetable supplier. The project is supported by Innosuisse, the Swiss innovation agency.

The aim is for the new technology to be used in all 150 Lidl stores throughout Switzerland following the successful main trial.

 

 

 

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