What does food packaging of the future look like?
Updated: Nov 14, 2021
The demand for plastic packaging alternatives is at an all time high.
Single-use plastic first hit the market in the 1950s, following the end of WWII, and it exploded in popularity. Every sector, from fashion, to industry, construction, and food, integrated this mouldable, cheap, and lightweight material into their business models.
Fast forward, 70 years, we are now feeling the affects of this 'throw-away' culture, and our planet is suffering. There is approximately 5.25 trillion macro and micro pieces of plastic floating in the ocean, and more than 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals are killed from plastic pollution annually.
Many of us have taken on plant-based diets to reduce our impact on the planet, and increase animal welfare, without realising that our waste, in the form of packaging, is also having a huge impact on the environment.
Check out the video below for a summary of how plastic grew in popularity...
Given the increasing awareness of how our actions affect the planet, many of us now take a re-useable water bottle and canvas bag wherever we go! Plastic straws are a no-no, and recycling is a standard practice in every household.
The days of single-use plastic are on the out, but there is still so much more we can do!
When it comes to food, plastic has been the easy option for keeping our food fresh and safe. But, there has been a rise in innovative alternatives to plastic.
You might have already heard of palm leaves, recyclable paper straws, or even 'plastic' made from corn, but there are some even wilder ideas out there, and here are a few of our favourites:
1. Saltwater Brewery.
Saltwater Brewery in America developed a material for their six-pack rings, made of barley and wheat remnants (brewing by-products), which is not only biodegradable and compostable, but also edible! Providing food for life in our oceans!
UK startup Ooho have created an edible (and by default, biodegradable) water bubble made of seaweed. The manufacturing process is also much more efficient and lower-cost than plastic production!
3. Ecovative Design.
These guys and girls, grow their packaging using mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, to bind together organic agricultural byproducts, such as wood chips, to produce durable, bio-based and 100% compostable materials.
The WikiCell has two layers of packaging. The first layer contains three main components: natural food particles, such as chocolate, fruit, nuts or seeds; a nutritive ion-like calcium; and a natural molecule (Chitosan) or alginate,
The second layer, provides a protective shell around the skin. Depending on the type of WikiCell and how it reaches the consumer, that shell may be completely edible, and made of isomalt, or completely biodegradable, and produced from baggase or tapioca.
5. No packaging at all!
This won't work for all food products, especially if they need to be transported over long distances, but many have argued that if we take on a slower consumption lifestyle, there really isn't any need for excessive food packaging...
Hindsight is 20-20....
Looking back, it seems completely crazy that we allowed single-use plastic to take such a hold over our daily lives! It is also scary that we ignored it for so long. But, there is still a window for improving our situation, and we look forward to seeing more sustainable packaging solutions come to market!
Let us know if you have come across any other interesting plastic alternatives!