University of Alberta researcher creates new cling wrap from leftover canola straw

Researcher Marleny Saldaña shows the raw materials used to make canola-based cling wrap at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
Marleny Saldaña

EDMONTON—One industry’s trash is another researcher’s treasure.

For canola oil producers, the straw is the most useless part, often left behind when harvesting canola. But Marleny Saldaña, a researcher in food and bioengineering processing at the University of Alberta, has created a new use for the leftover fibrous stalk, and that is cling wrap, more popularly known in the kitchen as Saran wrap.

“Canola is big in Canada, mainly in Alberta. We produce tons of canola,” she said. “We find that we are opening up a new use for residue that has no value until now.”

Saldaña said she noticed that the straw is mostly composed of cellulose and lignin, components that give tensile strength. She used the cellulose nanofibres found in the straw to make the see-through, plastic-like film.

Her creation could not come at a more perfect time because in March, China started banning shipment from canola companies in Canada. Saldaña believes her product could create a diverse local industry for canola in Alberta.
“We have created a new product that has high value. If we can do this in a refinery or treatment of all this canola straw (here), then we are adding more jobs, probably sending some high-value product to other countries,” she said. MORE

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