Rethinking Packaging Solutions- We might shop with leaves.

The leaves we trample on may very much bring the end to plastic paper bags used in shopping. Ms Barbara Götz, PhD student at the University of Bonn got to share her research work with #Tropentag2019 audience.


People always say the solutions to problems lies within; we only need to look inward to project them outward. I guess this is not just a cliché, Ms. Barbara Götz has taken a step backward to project forward sustainable solution to plastic pollution. By digging deep into the potential of leaves; common food packaging material that has been well used over centuries in Africa, she might be using old ways to solve the problem of the present and as well the future. Microbiologist by academic background, she was and is still concerned about issues pertaining to #zerowaste, #antimicrobialresistance, #zerohunger and #sustainability. She is also enthusiastic about travelling and learning other cultures. Little did she know that her passions were setting her up for something worthwhile.

Ms. Götz is working on her PhD titled “The potential of Antimicrobial Additives from Native Plants from Benin for Sustainable Food Packaging Solutions”, with collaborations from the University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin Republic and the University of Applied Sciences, Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, Germany. She aims to solve the issues of plastic pollution, food wastage and malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa through her research outputs. Through a series of phytochemical analysis involving several collected leaves from plant species native to Abomey-Calavi, Benin, she has been able to identify six plants extracts active against gram-positive bacteria (responsible for food spoilage) and gram-negative bacteria (pathogenic bacteria). She also observed potential for synergistic effects of these plants extracts.

While her research continues, she is hopeful her work can yield a bio-based and biodegradable packaging solution. The first prototypes of her leaf packages are in production, she also intends to test further potential effects of her leaf packages on the taste and shelf-life of food products. Hopefully, her innovative leaf packaging technology can be scaled up and utilized globally in the near future. When asked to describe her work in one sentence, the young scientist had this to say- “rethinking packaging solutions”. When next you see a leaf on the ground, what comes to mind?


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