Cracking idea to turn eggshells into cartons

Posted on 27 Jun 2012 by Chris Flynn

Scientists at the University of Leicester are planning to turn eggshells into plastics that could be used to manufacture anything from food packaging to construction materials.

The department of chemistry at the university is looking at how to extract glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) proteins from eggshells. Gags are used in many biomedical applications and scientists hope that they will prove useful in pharmaceuticals.

It will develop a post-treatment process to convert the eggshell into a starch-based plastic, test the mechanical properties, including the strength of the new material and make various materials to optimise the eggshell loading and particle size.

The project is being funded by the Food and Drink iNet, which was established in 2008 to coordinate specialist support to stimulate innovation in the industry. Food and Drink iNet is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and led by universities.

Managing director of the Just Egg company in Leicester, Pankaj Pancholi believes the research could bring big benefits to the food and drink sector.

“If I wasn’t spending £30,000 a year on landfill costs I could employ another worker or two part-time workers, or invest that money in research and development and innovation,” he said.

The ultimate goal is to use the eggshells in packaging to protect egg products – giving a second lease of life to the eggshell in the very role it was created for.