Rice leaves a voluminous amount of straws when harvested. Burning seems to be the easiest way to get rid of them, but this causes air pollution and risks to human health.
There’s good news. Rice straws, considered by farmers as waste, have the potential to become packaging materials for packing rice and other food commodities.
A research project will study the straws alone and in combination with other biodegradable raw materials to develop an eco-friendly process of converting them into packaging materials.
The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) has recently approved the implementation of the project “Development of Green Packaging Technology Using Eco-friendly Materials for Rice and other Commodities.” Iloilo Science and Technology University (ISaTU), in La Paz, Iloilo City, will implement the project.
In an inception meeting at ISaTU, project leader Dr. Yvette G. Gonzales explained that raw materials available and abundant in the locality would be identified and characterized. Potential raw materials will be converted into packaging papers. The project intends to develop packaging materials for specialty rice and food commodities following an environment-friendly process protocol.
The process protocol is expected to be cost-effective and will result in longer preservation of rice products, reduced use of hazardous chemicals to avoid food contamination and reduced carbon emissions.
A series of tests and evaluation will be conducted until the packaging materials become strong, durable, moisture-resistant and affordable.
ISaTU plans to partner with Zarraga Integrated Diversified Organic Farmers Association for some of the activities of the project.
Those who will benefit from the outputs of this project include farmers growing organic/specialty rice and consumers.
ISaTU researchers and inventors intend to file for patent on the process and product as soon as they are fully developed.
With this project, PCAARRD is looking forward to further provide solutions to waste-management problems in rice farms, through innovative products and processes that are eco-friendly, as well.