Flax pack­ag­ing?

Element - - Business -

New Zealand could re­vive its flax in­dus­try on the back of new re­search show­ing it has po­ten­tial as an anti-fun­gal pack­ag­ing ma­te­rial. Re­search by Pro­fes­sor Ger­ald Smith of Vic­to­ria Univer­sity, has found that harakeke is re­sis­tant to fun­gal growth, sug­gest­ing it could prove valu­able for food pack­ag­ing. Smith, a chemist, was look­ing for ways to sta­bilise flax fi­bres in old Maori cloaks, which be­come brit­tle with ex­po­sure to light. “As well as find­ing a way of halt­ing this de­te­ri­o­ra­tion, we also found that the en­hanced re­sis­tance some harakeke have to fun­gal growth means it could ul­ti­mately find new uses in con­ser­va­tion and tex­tiles, as well as in pack­ag­ing that would pre­vent food from spoil­ing,” he said. Long-term, says Smith, the re­search holds prom­ise for re­viv­ing New Zealand’s flax in­dus­try, which was a sig­nif­i­cant earner un­til the ad­vent of syn­thetic fi­bres that use non-re­new­able ma­te­rial re­sources.

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