are leading a project to create a high-speed packaging machine to reduce the amount of plastic used in the ‘form-fill and seal’ packaging used for foods such as rice, pasta and crisps.
By developing a more efficient way of sealing the packaging, the researchers hope to reduce the amount of material used by 13 per cent, which would lead to a saving of more than 39,000 tonnes per year of landfill waste.
Dr Ben Hicks, Prof Glen Mullineux, and Dr Jason Matthews from the university’s Department of Mechanical Engineering are working as part of a consortium that also includes Campden BRI, HayssenSandiacre Europe, Amcor Flexibles Food and United Biscuits.
The two-year project is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
They will examine the existing process used to mechanically fill and seal the packaging and use this information to design a new packing machine that uses less plastic and can use recycled materials.
Hicks, senior research fellow and deputy director of the university’s Innovative Design Manufacturing Research Centre (IdMRC), said: ‘The project is building on the theoretical and modelling expertise of the university’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and using the materials and packaging testing facilities of Campden BRI to develop the new system.'
He added: ‘The scientific knowledge base is further enhanced by the materials processing knowledge of Amcor, the practical experience of consumer goods packaging from United Biscuits, and the machinery design knowledge of HayssenSandiacre.'