Your food delivery arrives at your door! All the contents are in a huge plastic bag. Inside, there’s pizza packed using paperboard which is supported by plastic-made pizza tables. Also, there are noodles packed in a paper box. They have provided multiple mini ketchup sachets packed using plastic. Then, single-use plastic spoon and fork, which is wrapped in plastic. So much waste for a single delivery. Now imagine the amount of packaging waste produced all across the world. Estimates suggest that by 2050, our ocean will have more plastic than fishes. To avoid such a situation, numerous companies are working on a packaging solution which is sustainable or biodegradable and won’t end up in our ocean. The world has seen numerous innovations in terms of sustainable food packaging since most countries are now focusing more on sustainability to reduce their carbon footprint. Keeping this trend in mind, this blog shortlists some of the key developments that will have a huge impact on the future of sustainable food packaging?
Future of sustainable and biodegradable food packaging
Algae water bottle
It may be surprising, but yes, the cost of the plastic used for packaging the water is costlier than the water itself. Even more surprising is that the bottles that cover the landfills take 1,000 years to decompose and half of it is only used once. Icelandic product designer Ari Jónsson took the matter into his own hands and came up with a biodegradable water bottle made from algae. The wobbly jelly-like bottle retains its unique shape until its empty, after which it begins to break down. The good part is, consumers can even chew and eat the bottle. Additionally, the bottle also has the property to keep water cool, even in hot weather.
Researchers are exploring the possibility of using a package made of caramelized sugar, coated with wax. It can be cracked open like an egg, after which the wax no longer protects the sugar and the package finally melts when it comes in contact with water. Such a packaging is useful for oil-based food.
An edible film is a thin layer, which acts as a barrier between food and the surrounding environment, and can be consumed. The edible film can be used to prolong the shelf life of the food and protect it from microorganisms. Such films are made from starch, and natural additives can be used to enhance the taste of the packaging. For instance, spicy curry or pepper can be added to enhance the flavor of the packaging material. Such films can come as a boon for sticky food such as toffee, which sticks to paper packaging. In such a case, edible films can be used to package the toffee. It can also be used to coat meat, fish, oily foods, and instant noodles.
Sometimes, there isn’t any substitute as good as plastic for food packaging. Plastics are very useful for oily food or food that can spill. Bioplastics borrow similar properties of plastic and place a minimal strain on earth. Microorganisms in the environment can metabolize and break down the structure of the biodegradable plastic. Such plastics are made from all-natural plant materials such as corn oil, orange peels, starch, and plants. It does not contain any harmful chemical as traditional plastic. All plant based materials are melted down and poured into molds of various food packaging shapes.
Biodegradable take-out food containers
Styrofoam and polystyrene are the most commonly used material for take-out containers. However, it is possible that chemicals in the polystyrene can actually leak into the food. Millions of such containers are thrown away every year. A company named Styrophobia makes compostable and biodegradable containers that can be used for food packaging in an environmentally friendly manner.
For more information on the future of sustainable food packaging and biodegradable packaging materials: