Winning Solutions to Sustainable Packaging for Micronutrient Powders

First Place Proposal:  New Double Sack (DS) economical packaging for “Essential Powdered Nutrient Supplements” Proposed Idea or Technical Approach Packaging Improvement for Essential Powdered Nutrient Powders (MNPs) to Combat Malnutrition
First Place Winner:  Jose Tarquino
Award:  $12,500

Second Place Proposal:  RE: Seeking More Sustainable and Effective Packaging for Essential Powdered Nutrient Supplements
Second Place Winner: Ilya Mir and Ellery West
Award:  $9,000

Third Place Proposal:  Use of Chitosan setting solution for:
sustainable and effective packaging for essential powdered nutrient supplements to combat malnutrition.

Third Place Winner:  Mehrdad Keshmiri
Award:  $3,500 

First Place Proposal:  New Double Sack (DS) economical packaging for “Essential Powdered Nutrient Supplements” Proposed Idea or Technical Approach Packaging Improvement for Essential Powdered Nutrient Powders (MNPs) to Combat Malnutrition

First Place Winner:  Jose Tarquino

Award:  $12,500

To replace the current MNPs laminated sack (specification 12μ PET /8μ Al / 45μ LDPE) with a NEW biodegradable MNPs sack with a cost less than 1.5¢ (US cents/und).


Table 1: Micronutrients included in Powdered Nutrient Powders (MNPs)
Micronutrient Weight Further Description of Micronutrient




Further Description of Micronutrient

Vitamin A


Vitamin E

Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Folic acid Niacinamide Vitamin C
Copper Selenium Iodine

400 μg

5 μg

5 mg

0.5 mg
0.5 mg
0.5 mg
0.9 μg
150 μg
6 mg
30 mg
10 mg
4.1 mg
0.56 mg
17 μg
90 μg
0.5 %
Ad Up to 1g

Vitamin A acetate 250 CWS/A (contains 75 μg Retinol/mg product form)
Vitamin D3 100 CWS/AM (contains 2.5 μg Vit D/mg product form)
TE Vitamin E acetate 50% CWS/S (contains 0.3355 mg TE/mg product form)
Thiamine Mononitrate
Vitamin B2 .5 phosphate Sodium
Pyridoxine hydrochloride
Vitamin B12 0.1% WS
Folic acid
Ascorbic acid fine powder
Ferric Fumarate 60% coated
Zinc Gluconate
Copper gluconate
Sodium Selenite
20 Potassium Iodide
Sipernate 22S
Maltodextrin DE 11-14



  • Contents: One (1) gram of Vitamins & Minerals mix (Table 1). Since these contents are sensitive and potentially degradable by light, humidity and heat, the package must provide protection against light, vapor and oxygen.
  • Transportation: The packaged contents will be delivered around the globe using different modes of transportation including motor vehicles, airplanes, and sea vessels through a variety of roads and environments. Therefore, the packaging must be resistant enough to protect the product while they are being transported to their destinations (e.g., remote villages).
  • Regulations: The packaging must comply with FDA requirements.
  • Environmental protection (green): The packaging must be biodegradable or at least recyclable.
  • Cost: The package should be as cheap as possible with an upper limit of 1.5¢ (US cents).

The improved MNPs new packaging system consists of a Biodegradable food grade double sack (DS) made from two materials: Metallised NatureFlex™ Film NM (for the inner sack) and BL Kraft Paper (BLKP, for the outer sack). This double sack ranges in cost from 0.008¢ to 1.45¢ (US cents) and provides similar or better protection to the MNPs contents than the foil laminate currently in use.

1. The inner sack to protect the powder mix quality is made from Metallised NatureFlex™ Film NM and manufactured by Innovia Films-USA branch.
Innovia Films offers grades of NatureFlex™ that are metallised. These films have a small amount of aluminum vacuum deposited onto one surface to produce substrates with high luster and sparkle. The addition of the metal layer vastly improves the moisture, gas and UV light barrier, but does not compromise the compostability and renewability aspects of the NatureFlex™ products. The metallised NatureFlex™ films provide an extremely high barrier against moisture, vapor, aromas and gases allowing them to be used for the packaging of hygroscopic foods; the films also provide a barrier against UV/light transmissions. In addition, the films are also suitable for use in lamination and extrusion coating applications.2

Key attributes:2

  • _ Excellent light and UV barrier
  • _ Good moisture barrier
  • _ Excellent gas and aroma barrier
  • _ One side heat sealable
  • _ Anti-static and easy tearing
  • _ Cold seal compatible
  • _ Resistant to oils and greases
  • _ Excellent dead fold characteristics
  • _ Certified as compostable in key biodegradation environments (including anaerobic digestion,
  • industrial and home composting)
  • _ Based on renewable resources

Table No 2: Metallised NatureFlex™ film NM 90 Technical Properties (Typical Values)2


Table No 2: Metallised NatureFlex™ film NM 90 Technical Properties (Typical Values)2

Property NM

Test Method

Test Conditions


NatureFlex NM 90


Innovia Films test




Yield Innovia Films test

Innovia Films test




Permeability to: Water vapor ASTM E96

100°F 90% RH

g/100 in2 24 hrs 0.32

Permeability to: Oxygen

ASTM F 1927

75°F 0-5% RH

cc/100 in2, 24


Optical density †

Innovia Films test



Coefficient of friction

ASTM D 1894

Metallized surface


Non-metallized surface (film to film)


Tensile strength

ASTM D 882







Elongation at break

ASTM D 882







Elasticity modulus (1% secant)

ASTM D 882







Seal strength

Innovia Films test 275°F; 0.5 secs, 10 psi g(f)/in


† Metal Optical Density (MOD): This measure of the optical density of metallized films provides an indication

of the metallization coverage (both thickness & uniformity). Light is passed through the metallized layer and

the MOD is the amount of transmitted light. As the thickness of the metal layer increases, the MOD

decreases. A film with an optical density of 2.0 will result in 1% transmitted light, while increasing the OD to

3.0 reduces the light transmission to 0.1%. Metallized NatureFlex™ has an OD of 2.5, such that 0.6% (<1%)

of incident light is transmitted.

2. The outer sack to supply handle protection during transportation is made from BL Kraft Paper (BLKP, food grade) and manufactured by International Paper Co. USA.
International Paper's bleached packaging papers are designed to deliver outstanding converting and packaging performance and exceptional print quality.
Key attributes:3

  • Consistent quality
  • Excellent converting behavior
  • Superior sizing and strength
  • Outstanding print quality
  • FDA food contact compliant
  • SFI® Chain-of-Custody (CoC) certified

Table 3: BL Kraft Paper (food grade) – International Paper3


Property Units Typical Values

Basis Wt

fb/3000 ft2 gsm

30 48.8

33 53.7

40 65.1

50 81.4


0.001 in microns

2.8 71

3.0 76

3.8 97

4.6 117













Smoothness, FS






Smoothness WS






Tear, MD

gf mN

51 500

55 539

70 686

86 843

Tear, CD

gf mN

60 588

65 637

80 785

96 941

Tensile, MD

lbf/in kN/m

18 3.2

19 3.3

25 4.3

34 6

Tensile, CD

lbf/in kN/m

13 2.3

13 2.3

18 3.1

22 3.8

Stretch, MD






Stretch, CD







ft-lbf/ft2 J/m2

2.4 35

2.7 40

3 44

8.2 120


ft-lbf/ft2 J/m2

4.1 60

4.5 65

5.3 77

9.2 135

Gurley Porosity






3. Two-Step packaging process.
_ Step 1: packing the MNPs in a Metallised NatureFlex™ Film NM sack formed and seal in powder filling machine.
_ Step 2: the inner film sack is inserted in a BLKP bag and sealed.
Note: An alternative process is to use a single laminate sack (made of Metallised NatureFlex™ Film NM and BLKP using a starch adhesive) and then use this single laminate sack to pack and seal the MNPs in a powder filling machine. This alternative process is more expensive but still meets the protective requirements and is under 1.45¢.

4. Comparative Data of the Current Foil Laminate packaging and the Proposed DS Metallised
NatureFlex NM / BLKP.
Table 4: Materials and Technical Standards Required for Meeting the Five Design Elements



Current Foil Laminate 12µ PET / 8µ Al / 45µ LDPE4

Proposed NatureFlex Metallised / BLKP

Test Method


Foil laminated

2 sacks Ϯ


Basis Weight, g/m²


(NM 34+KP 50) = 84

ISO 536


71±4 μ

94 μ (NM 0.92+KP 2.8) = 3.7 mil

ISO 1923

WVTR ( 37,8°C, %90RH, 1atm), g/m²/day




OTR ( 23°C, %0 RH, 1atm), cc/m²/day,



ASTM D3985,

Oxygen 75°F 0-5% RH, cc/100in2. 24



ASTM F 1927

UV UV/visible light transmission (2.0 = 1% light transmission)


2.5 (>0.5% incident light transmitted)

Innovia Films test

Residual Solvent

<20 mg/m²


ASTM F 1884

Heat Seal Strength (125°c/14,7psi/1s)



ASTM F 2029

Heat Seal Strength





275°F; 0.5 secs, 10 psi,




Innovia Films test






Lamination Strength



ASTM F 904



0.4 Metallized surface 0.22 Non Metallized surface

ASTM D 1894


Hy-rise Colour Test: Clean Merck Cult Dip: <10³

This is performed during the packaging process, will meet the spec.


Biodegradable / Compostable


YES NM film is certified by Industrial Composting


* Compostable 7H0029; * ASTM D6400 and EN13432, and to OK





Compost’s, Home Composting Standard.

Cost (¢, US CENTS)

1.5¢ (?)

0.9¢ -1.45¢



Ϯ Could be single-layer laminate sack or a double sack.



The proposed double sack packaging for the MNPs meets the five elements considered during the packaging design process. The proposed double sack packaging improves the overall output of the product while remaining a more sustainable and effective method for packaging essential MNPs used to combat malnutrition than the laminate currently in use.

The next step could be improving the entire product by microencapsulating the MNPs’ contents which would:

  • enhance the cross-contamination barriers, protecting the MNPs’ contents against processes and other
  • environmental insults,
  • improve the feeding / administration process for the MNPs (during food mixing and servings),
  • improve the MNPs’ absorption and digestion within the gastrointestinal tract (pharmacokinetics) and
  • lower the overall cost.

If interested, Tarpri Enterprises Corp. could develop and offer a microencapsulated MNPs contents alternative. You may contact them at:
Tarpri Enterprises Corp.
411 NW 10 St., Miami, FL 33168
Phone: (305) 454-1673

Second Place Proposal:  RE: Seeking More Sustainable and Effective Packaging for Essential Powdered Nutrient Supplements

Second Place Winner:  Ilya Mir and Ellery West

Award:  $9,000

I propose an inexpensive to produce, single use packet, assembled with conventional equipment that would resemble typical condiment packages, but with medications inside. Conventional single use pill packages of this type are common in convenience stores and are popular due to low cost and convenience. The idea that would make this package sustainable and compostable is that it would be constructed with PHA compostable film that has been metalized on one side that is then bonded/laminated to paper. This package will offer excellent product protection and oxygen resistance with at least 3+ years shelf life and hold up to field temperatures. When the package is discarded, the paper will decompose quite rapidly in the presence of water and the compostable PHA will eventually break down completely even in arid environments. The metallization is typically 4 micron thick gas disposition aluminum which when oxidized is similar to elements found in the Earth’s crust.

The main challenge to this project will be commitment and start-up financing. All the materials and processes are well known, however organizing the PHA supplier and arranging for metalizing then laminating will require organizational ability and follow through. The metalized PHA laminated paper will need to be printed and dimensioned – most likely on specifically sized rolls as specified by the product filler. The strength of this idea is that it is low risk, low cost if produced at reasonable scale, 100% probability of success and meets or exceeds all compostability standards.

Third Place Proposal:  Use of Chitosan setting solution for:
sustainable and effective packaging for essential powdered nutrient supplements to combat malnutrition.

Third Place Winner:  Mehrdad Keshmiri

Award:  $3,500

This idea is based on an existing known process, which the inventor had applied previously to develop a new process of producing monosize spherical media for the materials fabrication; used in pharmaceutical industries, and environmental technologies. The novelty is the method under which the functional material can be fabricated not only in the form of spheres but fibres, sheets, and membranes.

The fabricated biodegradable fibres and sheets can be used for the production of the packaging material for the proposed application. This could be considered as a separate research proposal, to be defined for further investigation.  However, by this current proposal, an easier facile approach; the use of Chitosan setting solutions is suggested to strengthen the regular existing paper-based packages. This will result in an enhanced protection against moisture and other contaminant agents, which may affect the quality of the nutrients inside the package.

In brief, the success of the suggested environmentally friendly idea will be based on the combination of two major factors:

  • Paper-based packaging materials are safe, natural, biodegradable, light, and cheap. The major problem with extensively use of them as a packaging media for nutrient materials is their low resistance to moisture and micro-organism penetrating from outside.
  • 2- Application of a safe, biocompatible material which is resistant to water diffusion. This secondary material can be embedded in between the paper fibrous structure to prevent the gradual contact of the materials inside the package with contaminants, etc.

Chitosan setting solution
Chitosan is a biopolymer derived by the alkaline deacetylation of chitin, a polyglucosamide, which is a component of the crustaceans’ shells, insects’ exoskeltons, etc. Chitosan, as a linear polysaccharide, is soluble in dilute acids, and behaves as a worm-like chain. Because of its stability, chemical properties, and biocompatibility, chitosan has been used in many current and potential applications including pharmacological, biomedical, and waste treatment products.
Regardless of the extensive applications of this material, chitosan acidic solution is suggested for this invention basically because of its controlled viscosity, needed for an effective penetration in between the paper fibrous texture, followed by its fast hardening when in contact with basic solutions (e.g. NH4OH).

Chitosan-paper composite
Immersion of paper products in chitosan solution, especially under vacuum condition will force the solution to diffuse in between the fibers and occupy the pores. The saturated paper can then be treated in a weak basic atmosphere, or a second solution bath to induce the gelation and hardening of the Chitosan compound. This would partially or completely block the paper micropores. The drying place may be completed under ambient condition with no need for a basic condition, depending on the paper specification itself. A controlled mixture of chitosan solution, in terms of its viscosity, and pH to be prepared to wet the paper products. Vacuum condition will accelerate the rate of the process. The viscous acidic solution of chitosan itself forms a three-dimensional structure when exposed to basic solutions. However, it is extremely soft and could not preserve its shape while immersed in water. Also, the rate of drying shrinkage for the resulting material is high enough to practically turn the product into a fine powder after drying.

In contrast, the paper fibres would act as a structural reinforcement, which keeps the solidified
chitosan agent in place.
The setting of the chitosan solution could be explained by:

  • Fast gelation of chitosan, because of the cross-linking of A-groups (N-acetyl-D-glucosamine residues), in basic solutions.
  • Fast precipitation of chitosan by the extreme change in pH from highly acidic (~pH 1) to highly basic (~pH 12).
  • Combination of the two above mechanisms.

The resulting fibrous composite still posses the flexibility of regular paper products, providing a closed microstructure, which doesn’t let the passage of moisture. The filler media is a pure biocompatible material which would naturally block the penetration, as characteristically it is not water-soluble. Since both components are naturally derived, the final product is environmentally friendly, and can be disposed anywhere.


Figure 1. Preparation process of paper products with the use of chitosan, as the blocking agent.