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.




  • Abdelwahab, M. A.; Elkholy, H. M.; Khan, A.; Zahra Aayanifard; Wauldron, N.; Matuana, L. M.; Auras, R.; Zheng Juncheng; Cheng, S.; Muhammad Rabnawaz. Glycidol-Free Aliphatic Copolymers as Chain Extenders for Polylactic Acid and Their Cost and Carbon Emission Assessments. ACS sustainable chemistry & engineering 2024.

  • Khan, A.; Kumar, V.; Anulare, J.; Dam, M.; Wyman, I.; Pooja Mayekar; Muhammad Rabnawaz. Sustainable Packaging with Waterborne Acrylated Epoxidized Soybean Oil. ACS sustainable resource management 2024.


  • Syeda Shamila Hamdani; Elkholy, H. M.; Alford, A.; Jackson, K.; Naveed, M.; Wyman, I.; Wang, Y.; Li, K.; Haider, S. W.; Muhammad Rabnawaz. Synthesis of Water-Dispersible Poly(Dimethylsiloxane) and Its Potential Application in the Paper Coating Industry as an Alternative for PFAS-Coated Paper and Single-Use Plastics. Polymers 2024, 16 (7), 1006–1006. 3.png
  • Anurag Ganapathi; Abdelwahab, M. A.; Muhammad Rabnawaz. Achieving Bottle‐Grade Poly(Ethylene Terephthalate)‐like Properties from Blends of Bottle‐Grade and Thermoform‐Grade Poly(Ethylene Terephthalate). Polymer international 2024. 4.png
  • Yadav, S.; Khan, A.; Syeda Shamila Hamdani; Muhammad Rabnawaz. Degradable Polymeric Waxes for Paper Coating Applications. ACS Applied Polymer Materials 2024. 5.png
  • Elkholy, H. M.; Abdelwahab, M. A.; Naveed, M.; Abdelaziz, K.; Muhammad Rabnawaz. Food-Safe Glycidyl-Free Chain Extenders for Polylactide. Green chemistry 2024. 6.png



  • Abdelwahab, M. A.; Khan, A.; Matuana, L. M.; Auras, R.; Rabnawaz, M. Polystyrene-Free Chain Extenders for Recycled Poly(Ethylene Terephthalate). ACS Applied Polymer Materials 20224 (12), 9272–9283.

Figure 1



  • Naveed, M.; Rabnawaz, M. Are Telechelic Polysiloxanes Better than Hemi-Telechelic for Self-Cleaning Applications? Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 2021, 600, 174–186.

  • Kansal, D.; Abouomar, R.; Rabnawaz, M. Green Analogs of Polybutadienes from Carbon Dioxide and Epoxy‐based Feedstocks. J Appl Polym Sci 2021, 138 (29), 50708.


  • Nair, A.; Kansal, D.; Khan, A.; Rabnawaz, M. Oil‐ and water‐resistant Paper Substrate Using Blends of chitosan‐ graft ‐polydimethylsiloxane and Poly(Vinyl Alcohol). J Appl Polym Sci 2021, 138 (21), 50494.


  • Tuhin, M. O.; Cheng, K.; Naveed, M.; Aliakbarian, B.; Rabnawaz, M. A Dual-Wall 3D-Printed Anti-Tampering Medical Bottle. J Package Technol Res 2021, 5 (2), 89–95.


  • Kansal, D.; Rabnawaz, M. Fabrication of Oil‐ and water‐resistant Paper without Creating Microplastics on Disposal. J Appl Polym Sci 2021138 (3), 49692.


  • Nair, A.; Kansal, D.; Khan, A.; Rabnawaz, M. New Alternatives to Single‐use Plastics: Starch and Chitosan‐ Graft ‐polydimethylsiloxane‐coated Paper for Water‐ and Oil‐resistant Applications. Nano Select 2021, nano.202100107.

Details are in the caption following the image

Graphical abstract: Melt-reprocessing of mixed polyurethane thermosets

  • Khan, A.; Silva, L. F.; Rabnawaz, M. A Comparative Study of Thallium(III) and Iodine(III)-Mediated Ring Contraction Reactions for the Synthesis of Indane. New J. Chem. 202145 (4), 2078–2084.

Graphical abstract: A comparative study of thallium(iii) and iodine(iii)-mediated ring contraction reactions for the synthesis of indane



  • Khan, A.; Huang, K.; Sarwar, M. G.; Cheng, K.; Li, Z.; Tuhin, M. O.; Rabnawaz, M. Self-Healing and Self-Cleaning Clear Coating. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 2020, 577, 311–318.

  • Hamdani, S. S.; Li, Z.; Sirinakbumrung, N.; Rabnawaz, M. Zein and PVOH-Based Bilayer Approach for Plastic-Free, Repulpable and Biodegradable Oil- and Water-Resistant Paper as a Replacement for Single-Use Plastics. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2020, 59 (40), 17856–17866.

  • Khan, A.; Ahmed, N.; Rabnawaz, M. Covalent Adaptable Network and Self-Healing Materials: Current Trends and Future Prospects in Sustainability. Polymers 2020, 12 (9), 2027.

Scheme 1

  • Kansal, D.; Hamdani, S. S.; Ping, R.; Rabnawaz, M. Starch and Zein Biopolymers as a Sustainable Replacement for PFAS, Silicone Oil, and Plastic-Coated Paper. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2020, 59 (26), 12075–12084.

  • Kansal, D.; Hamdani, S. S.; Ping, R.; Sirinakbumrung, N.; Rabnawaz, M. Food-Safe Chitosan–Zein Dual-Layer Coating for Water- and Oil-Repellent Paper Substrates. ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2020, 8 (17), 6887–6897.

  • Hamdani, S. S.; Li, Z.; Rabnawaz, M.; Kamdem, D. P.; Khan, B. A. Chitosan –Graft –Poly(Dimethylsiloxane)/Zein Coatings for the Fabrication of Environmentally Friendly Oil- and Water-Resistant Paper. ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2020, 8 (13), 5147–5155.

  • Li, Z.; Rabnawaz, M.; Khan, B. Response Surface Methodology Design for Biobased and Sustainable Coatings for Water- and Oil-Resistant Paper. ACS Appl. Polym. Mater. 2020, 2 (3), 1378–1387.


  • Li, Z.; Rabnawaz, M.; Sarwar, G.; Khan, B., Nair, A.; Sirinakbumrung, N., Kamdem, P. A closed-loop and sustainable approach for the fabrication of plastic-free oil- and water-resistant paper products, Green Chemistry 2019 (in press).
  • Khan, F.; Khan, A.; Tuhin, M.; Rabnawaz, M.; Li, Z.; Naveed, M. Simple design for durable and clear self-cleaning coatings. ACS Applied Polymer Materials 2019,1, 10.
  • Khan, F.;, A.; Tuhin, M.; Rabnawaz, M.; Li, Z.; Naveed, M. A novel dual-layer approach towards omniphobic polyurethane coatings, RSC Advances 2019, 9, 26703. (Impact Factor = 3.049)
  • Cheng, S.; Rabnawaz, M.; Khan, F.; Khan, B. Synthesis of high molecular weight aromatic polyesters via integrated alternating ring-opening copolymerization and chain extension methods. Journal of Applied Polymer Science 2019, 136, 47200. (Impact Factor = 2.188)
  • Naveed, M.; Rabnawaz, M.; Khan A.; Tuhin, M. Dual-Layer Approach toward Self-Healing and Self-Cleaning Polyurethane Thermosets, Polymers 2019, 11, 1849.


  • Li, Z.; Rabnawaz, M.,* Fabrication of Food-Safe Water-Resistant Paper Coatings Using a Melamine Primer and Polysiloxane Outer Layer. ACS Omega 2018, Volume 3, 11909-11916.

  • Cheng, S.; Khan, F.; Khan, B.; Rabnawaz, M.* Synthesis of high molecular weight polyester using in situ drying method and assessment of water vapor and oxygen barrier properties,  MDPI Polymers(accepted, Oct 2018)

  • Cheng, S.; Khan, B.; Khan, F.; Rabnawaz, M.* Synthesis of High Molecular Weight Aromatic Polyesters via Integrated Alternating Ring-Opening Copolymerization and Chain Extension Methods; Journal of Applied Polymer Science (accepted, Oct 2018)

  • Shouyun Cheng; Lin Wei; Muhammad Rabnawaz "Catalytic liquefaction of pine sawdust and in-situ hydrogenation of bio-crude over bifunctional Co-Zn/HZSM-5 catalysts" Fuel, 2018.

  • Boucher-Jacobs Camille, Muhammad Rabnawaz, Damien Guironnet Joshua Katz, and Ralph Even, Encapsulation of Catalyst in Block Copolymer Micelles for the Polymerization of Ethylene in Aqueous Medium" Nature Communications, volume 9, Article number: 841 (2018) ( doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03253-5)

Block Copolymer 


  • Burhan Khan; Muhammad R. Shah*; Muhammad Rabnawaz,* Synthesis of Novel Macrocycles Carrying Pincer-type Ligands for Future Applications in Size-Selective, Stereochemical and Recyclable Catalysts, Journal of Molecular Structures (2017) (Accepted).
  • M. Rabnawaz, I. Wyman, R. Auras, S. Cheng, A roadmap towards green packaging: current status and future outlook for polyesters in the packaging industry,Green Chemistry 2017 (in Press).
  • K. Shah, E. Hassan, F. Ahmed, I. Anis, M. Rabnawaz, M. R. Shah, Novel fluorene-based supramolecular sensor for selective detection of amoxicillin in water and blood. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 141, 25-29 (2017).
  • S. Chenga, L. Weia, J. Julsona, M. Rabnawaz, Upgrading pyrolysis bio-oil through hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) using non-sulfided Fe-Co/SiO2 catalyst, 15, 331–342 (2017).


  • B. Khan, M. R. Shah, D. Ahmed, M. Rabnawaz, I. Anis, S. Afridi, T. Makhmoor, M. N. Tahir, Synthesis, characterization and Cu 2+ triggered selective fluorescence quenching of Bis-calix [4] arene tetra-triazole macrocycle. Journal of hazardous materials 309, 97-106 (2016).


  • M. Rabnawaz, G. Liu, H. Hu, Fluorine‐Free Anti‐Smudge Polyurethane Coatings. Angewandte Chemie 127, 12913-12918 (2015).
  • C. M. Grozea, M. Rabnawaz, G. Liu, Quantification of residual liquid on repellent cotton fabrics after liquid roll off. RSC Advances 5, 103722-103728 (2015).
  • M. Rabnawaz, Z. Wang, Y. Wang, I. Wyman, H. Hu, G. Liu, Synthesis of poly (dimethylsiloxane)-block-poly [3-(triisopropyloxysilyl) propyl methacrylate] and its use in the facile coating of hydrophilically patterned superhydrophobic fabrics. RSC Advances 5, 39505-39511 (2015).
  • M. Rabnawaz, G. Liu, Graft‐Copolymer‐Based Approach to Clear, Durable, and Anti‐Smudge Polyurethane Coatings. Angewandte Chemie 127, 6616-6620 (2015).
  • C. M. Grozea, M. Rabnawaz, G. Liu, G. Zhang, Coating of silica particles by fluorinated diblock copolymers and use of the resultant silica for superamphiphobic surfaces. Polymer 64, 153-162 (2015).
  • M. Rabnawaz, G. Liu, Back Cover: Graft‐Copolymer‐Based Approach to Clear, Durable, and Anti‐Smudge Polyurethane Coatings (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 22/2015). Angewandte Chemie International Edition 54, 6652-6652 (2015).


  • Y. Wang, X. Li, H. Hu, G. Liu, M. Rabnawaz, Hydrophilically patterned superhydrophobic cotton fabrics and their use in ink printing. Journal of Materials Chemistry A 2, 8094-8102 (2014).
  • M. Rabnawaz, G. Liu, Triblock Terpolymers Bearing a Redox-Cleavable Junction and a Photo-Cross-Linkable Block. Macromolecules 47, 5115-5123 (2014).
  • D. Macoretta, M. Rabnawaz, C. M. Grozea, G. Liu, Y. Wang, A. Crumblehulme, M. Wyer, Clear antismudge unimolecular coatings of diblock copolymers on glass plates. ACS applied materials & interfaces 6, 21435-21445 (2014).

2008 - 2013    

  • A. Z. Khan, A. Mohammad, Z. Iqbal, I. Anis, M. R. Shah, S. Nadeem, M. Rabnawaz, A. Shahidullah, H. Khan, I. Khan, Molecular docking of viscosine as a new lipoxygenase inhibitor isolated from Dodonaea viscosa. Bangladesh Journal of Pharmacology 8, 36-39 (2012).
  • M. Rabnawaz, G. Liu, Preparation and application of a dual light-responsive triblock terpolymer. Macromolecules 45, 5586-5595 (2012).
  • X. Roy, J. K.-H. Hui, M. Rabnawaz, G. Liu, M. J. MacLachlan, Prussian Blue Nanocontainers: Selectively Permeable Hollow Metal–Organic Capsules from Block Ionomer Emulsion-Induced Assembly. Journal of the American Chemical Society 133, 8420-8423 (2011).
  • X. Roy, J. K. H. Hui, M. Rabnawaz, G. Liu, M. J. MacLachlan, Soluble Prussian Blue Nanoworms from the Assembly of Metal–Organic Block Ionomers. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 50, 1597-1602 (2011).
  • M Rabnawaz, SD Benson, B Khan, MR Shah, Ethyl 2-(3-acetyl-6-methyl-2-oxo-2H-pyran-4-yloxy) acetate, Acta Crystallographica Section E: Structure Reports Online 66 (2), o397-o397 (2010)
  • M. Rabnawaz, S. D. Benson, B. Khan, M. R. Shah, Ethyl 2-(3-acetyl-6-methyl-2-oxo-2H-pyran-4-yloxy) acetate. Acta Crystallographica Section E: Structure Reports Online 66, o397-o397 (2010).
  • M. Rabnawaz, B. Khan, M. R. Shah, I. Anis, S. W. Ng, Methyl (2′-hydroxybiphenyl-2-yloxy) acetate. Acta Crystallographica Section E: Structure Reports Online 65, o931-o931 (2009).    
  • M Rabnawaz, B Khan, MR Shah, I Anis, SW Ng, Methyl (2′-hydroxybiphenyl-2-yloxy) acetate, Acta Crystallographica Section E: Structure Reports Online 65 (4), o931-o931​ (2009) 
  • M. Rabnawaz, Q. Ali, M. R. Shah, K. Singh, 2, 2′-[Biphenyl-2, 2′-diylbis (oxy)] diacetic acid monohydrate. Acta Crystallographica Section E: Structure Reports Online 64, o1909-o1909 (2008).