Emily Williams

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Emily Williams

Emily Williams 
Product Development Engineer, Michelman


Food Serviceware: Product Developments to Zero Waste Models

Waterborne PLA Coatings: A Potential Alternative to Extruded PLA in Food Service Packaging

As the circular economy (CE) increasingly influences consumer choices and brand loyalty, the packaging industry must rethink its relationship with waste, resources & material use. Coating technologies that facilitate CE principles of recovery, recycling, composting or repulpability are now being considered for paper-based food service packaging. Paper packaging provides a particular challenge to fit within this ecosystem because it must provide additional performance benefits such as oil and grease barrier, as well as moisture resistance. Materials used to provide these benefits are often considered deterrents for including in traditional recycling programs because of the potential contamination with food waste. Because of this lack of recyclability, we are currently exploring options for compostable packaging. However, these options provide the following challenges:
1. They are limited to easily degradable polymer materials such as polylactic acid (PLA).
2. Aqueous coatings that can be easily applied on paper machines or standard paper coating equipment have limited viability due to the very hydrolytic sensitivity that makes these polymers easily degradable.

Michelman is well known as an innovator in the development of water-based technology and has decades of expertise in dispersing materials into water successfully. We have faced the above challenges and recently developed prototype polymer dispersions based on a range of materials, including PLA, which demonstrate exceptional resistance characteristics with acceptable formulation stability. Performance data for machine-coated substrates comprising these developmental coatings will be discussed.

About Emily Williams

Emily is a Product Development Engineer in the Printing and Packaging group at Michelman. In her three years there she has been focused on sustainable solutions and compostable coatings. In that time she has become an active member of the ASTM committee for compostable plastics, the Food Service Packaging Institute with the Paper Recovery Alliance and Plastics Recovery Group, and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. She has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from The Ohio State University and an M.S. in the same from the University of Cincinnati.


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