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Vivian Xie
27 Mar 2024

Novel approach to creating sustainable packaging from rice husks

Researchers have created a new approach to the designing of eco-friendly nanofibres extracted from rice husks, addressing the critical need for sustainable packaging materials in food and biopharmaceutical products.  

A team of researchers, led by YoungHoon Jung and HyeJee Kang from Kyungpook National University, have demonstrated a novel method of creating chitosan-based composite films utilising nanofibres extracted from rice husks. The method highlighted in their research is notable for its usage of an agricultural waste product in the production of a potential packaging material, promoting circular economic practices.  

The process involves a chemical pretreatment of rice husks and enzymatic hydrolysis during a biorefinery process. This produces lignin-rich lignocellulose nanofibres. These nanofibres offer unique hydrophobic properties and strength. When incorporated into chitosan and formed into composite films, the material gives enhanced mechanical and structural integrity. By repurposing what would be a waste product, this process contributes to overall waste reduction and marks a step forward for sustainable resource management. Moreover, the controllable process developed by the researchers may also allow for customised film formation, increasing economic feasibility for the biomaterials industry. 

Establishing a circular economy within the pharmaceutical supply chain has dominated talks around sustainability, with particular attention towards pharmaceutical packaging. The need for sustainable primary and secondary pharmaceutical packaging often present challenges related to scaling supply chain operations and safety and efficacy preservation of the drug products. This process demonstrates an innovative approach towards sustainable material development in tandem with the feasibility of creating composite films from waste products. For the pharmaceutical packaging sector, these composite films also offer unique UV-blocking properties, highlighting potential usage in pharmaceutical and biomedical device packaging. The lead researchers emphasised the significance of the study and innovative development method in paving the way forward for greener biomaterial packaging for food and pharma. 


1. Rice husk can be used as a promising sustainable packaging material [Accessed March 27, 2024]  

2. Kang HJ, Lee YJ, Lee JK et al. Production of Chitosan-Based Composite Film Reinforced with Lignin-Rich Lignocellulose Nanofibres from Rice Husk, J. Bioresour. Bioprod. Published online 15 March 2024. doi: 10.1016/j.jobab.2024.03.002 

3. The CPO Starter Pack: Why and When to Bring in a Contract Packaging Partner [Accessed March 27, 2024]  

Vivian Xie
Editor - Custom Content

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