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The Final Word by Helen Roush

The University of Maine is progressing in several different research initiatives.

In a recent press release, it was announced that Packaging Corporation of American donated $1.6 million to the University of Maine to establish the UMaine Sustainable Packaging Initiative.

The article states that "the UMaine Sustainable Packaging Initiative is a research-based public and private consortium that focuses on using forest-based materials to accelerate the transition to renewable and recyclable packaging made from forest fiber. "

The article goes on to state that "PCA's donation will support the university's Process Development Center (PDC). The PDC is a unique, open-access research facility that offers research and development technical services and resources in traditional pulp and paper, as well as emerging process technologies and material science. Funds will provide infrastructure improvements and new equipment to foster growth in becoming the leading R&D/pilot production lab for renewable packaging in the U.S.

"This gift is transformative for the PDC," said center Director Colleen Walker. "Not only will the PDC be better able to serve company and university researchers developing and commercializing new forest-based solutions for packaging, but we are engaging our Black Bear students in this process to provide hands-on research learning experiences."

In another article from the Bangor Daily News, it was reported that Maine scientists are testing tree pulp and seaweed as PFAS alternatives.

The article states that "Tree pulp and seaweed -- two readily available natural resources in Maine -- could replace the harmful coatings of "forever chemicals" that had been used widely until recently in food wrappers if several projects underway in the state reach commercial production.

University of Maine researchers are developing highly refined pulp cellulose and seaweed coatings that could add grease- and oil-resistance properties to paper. They are similar in function to, but safer than, certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that have been used."

We will keep you apprised of further developments.

Helen Roush is Executive Vice President of Paperitalo Publications.


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