Category

Biodegradable Packaging

From Forest to Table: New Packaging from Innovative Companies

They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure — but innovative companies are turning one man’s trash into another man’s … food packaging

With the dangers of global warming threatening to jeopardize our very existence, more and more consumers are becoming environmentally aware. We recycle, we compost, and we pay attention to the packaging on our purchases (this means no more Styrofoam take-out containers and avoiding plastic straws at your local bar). Some innovative companies recognize this demand for new ways to approach packaging and are working on turning food waste into new forms of food packaging.

Innovative Companies say Buh-bye to Plastic Packaging

Forget plastics. Non-recyclable, non-biodegradable products not only pollute our environment, they also potentially contaminate foods with harmful chemicals and even fail to keep your food adequately fresh. The newest solution? Food packaging made from natural materials like mushrooms, milk proteins, wood, kelp, and tomato peels. Not only are these products biodegradable, waste eliminators, and better for the environment, but they’re oftentimes edible. Really! Here are a few not quite market-ready concepts we have our eye on.

Wood-Based Bottles

In an attempt to reduce waste, Nestlé Waters and Danone have launched a joint product in alliance with a California startup, Origin Materials, to develop 100% bio-based bottles. Made from sustainable and renewable resources, these bottles will take biomass feed stocks (like recycled cardboard and sawdust) to create an entirely new product. These wood-based bottles are scheduled to hit store shelves in 2020.

Milk-Protein Packaging

Did your mother always tell you to drink your milk? Well now you can package your food with it, too, with edible milk-based packaging that reduces food spoilage and waste. This biodegradable, sustainable, and super-thin packaging will make the regular thin plastic film that wraps your cheese and meats obsolete. The US Department of Agriculture, whose team of researchers pioneered the technology, discovered that casein, also known as the protein in dairy milk, can be used to create edible packaging that actually protects your food better than plastic. The proteins work to form a tight network around the food, sealing it 500 times better than plastic.

Mushroom Material

Your favorite fungi are being turned into eco-friendly containers for wine bottles and furniture as well as products like coolers. Ecovative Design developed Mushroom Packaging to reduce waste and replace polystyrene in packaging materials. This product could theoretically replace Styrofoam across the globe. Ikea has already planned to replace their usual polystyrene packaging with Ecovative’s biodegradable mushroom roots. They’ve also licensed their packaging technology to Sealed Air, a $7.6 billion packaging company that makes Bubble Wrap.

Tomato Tin Cans

When you crack open a can of olives or dig into your favorite canned soup on a rainy day, you’ll usually find the packaging coated with chemicals like BPA (Bisphenol-A). While the levels found inside your cans are low enough to purportedly pose no threat to your health, more customers are looking for chemical-free, and thus BPA-free, packaging. The solution? To replace the chemical lacquer with natural ingredients, like processed tomatoes. BIOCOPAC is taking the skins from tomatoes and using them to treat metal food cans. So, the next time you pop open a can of tomatoes for your evening pasta sauce, you might be consuming more tomatoes than you think.

Seaweed Saran

Unlike other recyclable materials like glass and metal, plastic wrap cannot be recycled. So it’s more important than ever to cut down on our use of harmful plastic when packaging our foods. Japanese design company, AMAM, has developed Agar Plasticity to replace our usual Saran wrap. Made from agar, a material found in red marine algae, Agar Plasticity could soon replace the environmentally harmful but very thin and flexible plastics we’re currently using to wrap food. Even if the Agar Plasticity ends up in the ocean after you’ve finished your sandwich, it’ll just be heading right back home. Now that’s a product life cycle we can get behind!

Paper Water Bottle

Paper Water Bottle is purported to be the 1st of its kind in the world. the technology behind the Paper Water Bottle Technology is based on 16 global patents. Production began in December 2017.

·       An eco-friendly, direct replacement for plastic water/beverage bottles on the market today

·       Shell made of 100% compostable pulp

·       Barrier made with 100% recycled resin

·       Twist-off cap secures content with its Pulp Gripper™ technology

·       Can be customized to fit a brand’s needs through design and graphic communications

·       500ml Natural stock bottle

From Forest to Table: New Packaging from Innovative Companies

They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure — but innovative companies are turning one man’s trash into another man’s … food packaging?

With the dangers of global warming threatening to jeopardize our very existence, more and more consumers are becoming environmentally aware. We recycle, we compost, and we pay attention to the packaging on our purchases (this means no more Styrofoam take-out containers and avoiding plastic straws at your local bar). Some innovative companies recognize this demand for new ways to approach packaging and are working on turning food waste into new forms of food packaging.

Innovative Companies say Buh-bye to Plastic Packaging

Forget plastics. Non-recyclable, non-biodegradable products not only pollute our environment, they also potentially contaminate foods with harmful chemicals and even fail to keep your food adequately fresh. The newest solution? Food packaging made from natural materials like mushrooms, milk proteins, wood, kelp, and tomato peels. Not only are these products biodegradable, waste eliminators, and better for the environment, but they’re oftentimes edible. Really! Here are a few not quite market-ready concepts we have our eye on.

Wood-Based Bottles

In an attempt to reduce waste, Nestlé Waters and Danone have launched a joint product in alliance with a California startup, Origin Materials, to develop 100% bio-based bottles. Made from sustainable and renewable resources, these bottles will take biomass feed stocks (like recycled cardboard and sawdust) to create an entirely new product. These wood-based bottles are scheduled to hit store shelves in 2020.

Milk-Protein Packaging

Did your mother always tell you to drink your milk? Well now you can package your food with it, too, with edible milk-based packaging that reduces food spoilage and waste. This biodegradable, sustainable, and super-thin packaging will make the regular thin plastic film that wraps your cheese and meats obsolete. The US Department of Agriculture, whose team of researchers pioneered the technology, discovered that casein, also known as the protein in dairy milk, can be used to create edible packaging that actually protects your food better than plastic. The proteins work to form a tight network around the food, sealing it 500 times better than plastic.

Mushroom Material

Your favorite fungi are being turned into eco-friendly containers for wine bottles and furniture as well as products like coolers. Ecovative Design developed Mushroom Packaging to reduce waste and replace polystyrene in packaging materials. This product could theoretically replace Styrofoam across the globe. Ikea has already planned to replace their usual polystyrene packaging with Ecovative’s biodegradable mushroom roots. They’ve also licensed their packaging technology to Sealed Air, a $7.6 billion packaging company that makes Bubble Wrap.

Tomato Tin Cans

When you crack open a can of olives or dig into your favorite canned soup on a rainy day, you’ll usually find the packaging coated with chemicals like BPA (Bisphenol-A). While the levels found inside your cans are low enough to purportedly pose no threat to your health, more customers are looking for chemical-free, and thus BPA-free, packaging. The solution? To replace the chemical lacquer with natural ingredients, like processed tomatoes. BIOCOPAC is taking the skins from tomatoes and using them to treat metal food cans. So, the next time you pop open a can of tomatoes for your evening pasta sauce, you might be consuming more tomatoes than you think.

Seaweed Saran

Unlike other recyclable materials like glass and metal, plastic wrap cannot be recycled. So it’s more important than ever to cut down on our use of harmful plastic when packaging our foods. Japanese design company, AMAM, has developed Agar Plasticity to replace our usual Saran wrap. Made from agar, a material found in red marine algae, Agar Plasticity could soon replace the environmentally harmful but very thin and flexible plastics we’re currently using to wrap food. Even if the Agar Plasticity ends up in the ocean after you’ve finished your sandwich, it’ll just be heading right back home. Now that’s a product life cycle we can get behind!

 

Can you eat Packing Peanuts? What about your Coffee Cup?

can you eat packing peanuts?

Have you ever gotten a box in the mail, pulled out whatever was inside, been left with piles of packing peanuts, and wondered: can you eat packing peanuts? If you think it’s a crazy question, it’s not—many people wonder if packing peanuts are edible, and many more are likely surprised by the answer.

While most packing peanuts used to be Styrofoam — chosen because the shipping method is convenient and cheap—that material doesn’t decompose well. That’s why biodegradable packing peanuts are growing in popularity. They’re usually made from wheat and corn starch, making them edible (although not necessarily palatable). Such natural sources are indeed biodegradable and thus compostable.

The question of whether or not you can eat packing peanuts opens the door to a larger and more interesting conversation about food packaging and waste. We’ve talked before about how buying in bulk, for instance, doesn’t just save money but often reduces packaging, which is good for the environment. Another way for packaging to be greener, though, is for it to be biodegradable or, if we want to take a step further and head towards utopia, edible!

Water Bottles are Getting Better

Water bottles are perhaps one of the most obvious examples of wasteful packaging. Increasingly, though, companies are working to make them biodegradable. Boxed Water is the most obvious example of this trend; the company’s carton packaging is 76% made from paper, as the company explains, and that paper is all from sustainably managed forests. All of the product’s packaging can be recycled.

Naturally, traditional water bottle companies are looking to emulate that progress. Dasani’s plastic water bottles are 30% plants and (again according to the company) 100% recyclable.

Still, packaging that is recyclable and recycled are two different things. Last year, Americans used approximately 50 billion plastic water bottles, and recycled them at a rate of just 23%. And reusable water bottles are naturally far superior when it comes to minimizing environmental impact.

A similar story can be told for edible packaging, as there’s little to no environmental impact at all. Enter solutions like Wikicell, invented by a Harvard professor. In a nutshell, Wikicell is an edible skin that replaces plastic packaging—kind of like the gelatin that houses mochi ice cream. Naturally, companies will still need some kind of outer packaging to protect anything edible from dirt and debris, but such solutions at least minimize the packaging inside packaging that’s far too common.

KFC’s Edible Coffee Cup

A more recent related idea comes from an unexpected innovator: KFC. In 2015, the company’s test labs were working on a 100% edible chocolate coffee cup. Naturally, the hotter the coffee, the faster the cup would, ahem, degrade. There hasn’t been much buzz about the idea since then and this option also hasn’t really taken off. I wouldn’t be surprised if they reused the format or perhaps sold the concept to a third-party in the near future, though.

Edible packaging is an ideal solution when it comes to considering the environment in food sales—and you can bet demand will continue to rise as we continue to waste bottles, wrappers and the like. Biodegradable is a good short-term goal, but actual edible wrappers should be the finish line. As for how you can tell whether or not you can eat packing peanuts? Put a little water on one. If it begins to melt, it is most likely biodegradable.