Smart, compostable thin film packaging material

San Francisco-based biomaterials company Primitives developed biobased thin film packaging material that can sense and respond to the environment, enabling the monitoring of quality, improve safety and reduce the environmental footprint of products.

Petroleum-based flexible film packaging is one of the top contributors in plastic pollution, and the material cannot be recycled because they consist of several layers.

Founded in 2019 as a spin-off company of MIT, Primitives developed compostable thin film packaging, made from renewable materials like algae and other bio-based feedstock. Because they’re made using biologically derived molecules, Primitives films incorporate sensing mechanisms similar to those seen in nature. This enables them to sense and respond to their surroundings.

The films can be integrated with various smart applications. For instance, it can be programmed to change colour if it has been tampered with, has been exposed to too high temperatures, or if the product inside has gone bad.

The biobased films provide an oxygen barrier that outperforms petroleum-based LDPE by over 4 times, as well as bioplastic films like PLA. The film also blocks over 98% of harmful UVB rays, comparable to sunscreen SPF 30. The Primitives film biodegrades faster than other bioplastic alternatives within 30 days. They are optically transparent and can be digitally printed on.

Photos: Primitives