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Nano in packaging

Wrapped up in nano

Nano is already being used in packaging, particularly for food and drink, in a number of different ways:

Barrier protection

Nanomaterials, mainly made from nano-sized particles of clay, are used as a filler material in the production of the plastics used to make drinks bottles to improve their barrier protection.

For instance, it hasn’t been possible to use plastic bottles for beer because all the gases that kept the beer fresh were able to escape the old plastic bottles. Now with bottles that use plastic coated with nano-clays those gases cannot escape and the beer tastes the same as it would in glass.

Packaging reduction

To reduce the amount of plastic used in packaging, clays are being added in the processing method. As you will know, clays are what cause your wellingtons to stick in mud on a rainy day. Clays are made up of small platelets which when forced apart by water give the slippery effect in a farmer’s wet field.

What happens when they are put into plastics is that the plastic forces the clay platelets apart and gives a much larger exposed surface area which enables the strength of the plastic to be retained when less of it is used. (For more go to 'The Surface Area Thing' in the 'What is Nano' section.)


Use of silver nanoparticles as anti-bacterial agents in food packaging is increasing. It is usually coated on plastic packs to prevent food going off and also incorporated into food storage boxes you would use at home.

Protective coatings

A variety of different nano coatings are being examined with the intention of keeping food fresh and flavoursome, including through blocking the rays of the sun.

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