[Video] In 2009, Americans generated 72 million tons of food-packaging waste, but new innovations are set to reduce that number by making edible packaging.
According to Good.is, in the United States, containers and packaging constituted the largest portion of municipal solid waste generated in 2009—about thirty percent or about 72 million tons. In food packaging alone, Americans discard 570 million pounds each day. Numbers such as these are sobering and the driving force behind a number of sustainability projects:
Flexible film made from eggshells
Researchers at Tuskegee University (Alabama) have created a sustainable film seven times more flexible than other bioplastics from waste eggshells. The eggshells are first crushed into nano-sized calcium carbonate particles, then incorporated into bioplastic film made of polylactic acid or other naturally sourced polymers. This process boosts the film’s flexibility and the end result is a completely biodegradable packaging and suitable for both food and general retail products.
Edible six-pack rings
Saltwater Brewery has created edible six-pack rings for beer packaging, which they hope will significantly reduce the vast amount of birds and sea animals dying each year from plastic consumption. Made from barley and wheat, and though edible, the six-pack rings are sturdy enough to handle the weight of the average beer can.
Sustainable packaging made of hay
Julien Suzanne, a student designer, has created a natural solution to preserve traditional dry sausages made of compressed hay.
Edible cutlery on Kickstarter
Bakeys is launching the world’s first edible cutlery line made of three flours: rice, wheat, and sorghum that can be eaten by anyone—even those who are on vegan, preservative-free, trans-fat free, or dairy-free diets. The company also operates on the principles of fair trade.
Packaging make from milk
Many types of food packaging (such as cardboard and bottles) are made from recycled materials or can be recycled, but the thin film used for cheese slices and meat products has yet to be tackled, because it is more difficult to recycle. It is also suspected it may be adding harmful chemicals to your food. U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers have discovered a milk protein called casein can be used to develop an edible, biodegradable packaging film. The product is up to 500 times better than plastic at keeping oxygen away from food because the proteins of the fabric form a tighter network when they polymerize. What’s more, the researchers have found flavorings, vitamins, and other additives can be used to make the packaging, and the food it surrounds, tastier and more nutritious.