UNIVERSITY OF NAPLES FEDERICO II, ITALY
Research focus: development of bioplastics, reduction of waste
Petroleum-based plastic causes serious global environmental pollution. Only a small part of the large amounts of produced plastics is being recycled, while burning plastic releases poisonous chemicals and large amounts of plastic end up in landfills or in the oceans. Huge quantities of plastic-based materials are used in the food industry to protect food products and prolong their shelf-life. Therefore, an urgent need exists to develop biodegradable and sustainable bioplastics.
Manar is working on the development and production of the so called "bioplastics". Bioplastics are obtained from plant or animal feedstock and can be easily degraded by enzymes present in different microorganisms or are even edible. Her research focuses on the utilisation of milk whey, which is accumulated as waste in large quantities by the dairy industry in the production of cheese and curd. While whey is not easily disposable, it contains a lot of functional proteins such as ß-Lactoglobulin that bear potential to be used for creating packaging films.
Manar intends to take advantage of the Science Forum by building networks with professionals from Covestro AG. She hopes that initiating cooperation with the industry can help her in the production of different coatings with tailored applications.
The jury was convinced by the highly significant and interesting research topic – avoiding micro plastic pollution by using food industry waste to produce degradable bioplastic – of this committed, young scientist who also authored relevant publications.