Muhammad Rabnawaz, Ph.D.

Muhammad Rabnawaz

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Associate Professor, Tenured
Sustainable Materials Group




Muhammad Rabnawaz, Ph.D., has been an Associate Professor for the Michigan State University (MSU) School of Packaging. He joined the School of Packaging in August 2016. In 2013, he earned a Ph.D. from Queen’s University, Canada, in polymer chemistry, and held postdoctoral positions at Queen’s University between 2013 and 2015, as well as the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana) between 2015 and 2016.

Currently, he is pursuing research in the field of polymer science encompassing sustainable materials and multifunctional materials. One of his mission is to create new generation of highly skilled workforce, reduce plastic waste from packaging industry, and create end-of-life solutions for waste plastics. He teaches multiple courses including Packaging with Plastics, an undergraduate-level course; Advanced Polymer Synthesis, a graduate-level course; and Packaging Sustainability and Recycling, a graduate-level course.

Dr. Rabnawaz has authored over 50 refereed publications in leading scientific journals and is co-author of the renowned book on “Plastics Packaging” 4th edition. In addition, he holds 30 patents filed/issued within the U.S. and internationally, including at least 8 that are licensed or optioned. Dr. Rabnawaz has received multiple awards, including the 2021 MSU Innovator of the Year. Dr. Rabnawaz is also co-founder of a couple of companies related to his MSU technologies. He is also a knowledge partner for “Circular Great Lakes” with a zero-plastic mission (

I teach two short courses to industry professionals (thrice each year), and I interact regularly with packaging professionals, decision makers, managers, CTOs, and even legislators. Through these interactions, I have found many of them are confused about packaging sustainability.
Although there are many books, articles, and magazine stories published on this topic, they often provide conflicting or confusing information that complicates rather than simplifies the principles and practices of packaging sustainability.
For example, my students have asked me many questions hoping to get definitive research-based answers. Here are just a few: What is the future of recycling? Is recycling a viable approach? Are biodegradable/compostable materials better than recyclable packaging? Do oxo-degradable packaging materials have any future? Are glass, paper, and metal sustainable alternatives to plastics? Are extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws effective for the United States’ waste management system? What materials are likely to be banned and what are their potential viable replacements? Should microplastics be a concern for packaging companies?
Thus, as a service to the packaging industry and to others concerned about our environment, I provide research and fact-based answers in this text to the questions mentioned.  I hope  you will use the information to make decisions likely to result in  sustainable packaging.
Thus, I intend to help you to accomplish six goals.
1) You will be able to:
a) identify potential packaging materials that are likely to be phased out to meet new regulations and
b) be able to find alternatives to benefit your research and business.
2) You will be able to make informed choices about packaging materials by considering three factors: sustainability, performance, and cost.
3) You will be able to follow guidelines on the use of various packaging materials so that you may stay ahead of the demands of the industry.
4) You will be able to identify the emerging packaging trends in both academia and industry.
5) You will be able to understand and explain the EPR laws, and
6)  Your will be able to understand emerging issues associated with microplastic pollution, and the actions recommended to mitigate these challenges.


Learn more about his research:

Sustainable Materials Group