Main Article Content
The leather industry generates considerable amounts of solid waste and raises many environmental concerns during its disposal. The presence of collagen in these wastes provides a potential protein source for the fabrication of bio-based value-added products. Herein, a novel composite film was fabricated by incorporating vegetable-tanned collagen fiber (VCF), a mechanically ground powder-like leather waste, into a chitosan matrix and crosslinked with genipin. The obtained composite film showed a compact structure and the hydrogen bonding interactions were confirmed by FTIR analysis, indicating a good compatibility between chitosan and VCF. The optical properties, water absorption capacity, thermal stability, water vapor permeability and mechanical properties of the composite films were characterized. The incorporation of VCF into chitosan led to significant decreases in opacity and solubility of the films. At the same time, the mechanical properties, water vapor permeability and thermal stability of the films were improved. The composite film exhibited antibacterial activity against food-borne pathogens. Results from this research indicated the potential of the genipin-crosslinked chitosan/VCF composites for applications in antimicrobial packaging.