Edible Packaging: The Future or Major Faux Pas?

With increasing worries about our environment along with the rising cost of materials, the less packaging you need to hold your product, the better. Brands like Poland Spring have taken to reducing the amount of plastic they use, championing their “Eco-Slim cap”. On the technology front, Apple has also done their part in trying to reduce waste by having their iPhone packaging made of renewable tapioca paper foam. As a major brand, using eco-friendly packaging is definitely something to be proud of.

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But, at the end of the day, we’re still producing copious amounts of waste with our packaging, regardless of how “green” it may be. Annually, the United States produces 76 tons of food packaging waste. That is quite a lot of waste. What kind of packaging can we possibly use that will reduce waste down to zero? Well, one possible solution to this growing problem could be edible packages, a new phenomenon that could be the new future of the packaging industry. Invented by bio-chemical engineer, David Edwards, edible packaging consists of “WikiCells”, which contain food membranes that are brought together by electrostatic forces. Though this sounds too scientific to be natural, WikiCells are biodegradable and can hold both food and water. More importantly, this packaging is also quite tasty. Though, WikiCells are not the only path to edible packaging. Researchers at The Public University of Navarre in Spain have found that edible packaging can also be constructed from milk proteins and mesquite gum. Alas, this type of product is more of an edible “coating”, rather than a package itself.

Is this a possible solution to our escalating anxieties concerning packaging waste? In addition, will major brands, like Poland Spring, buy into this concept? Edible packaging might be a tasty, environmentally friendly option, but it’s hard to believe consumers will eat a package that has been man handled and subjected to who knows what. Also, after a consumer eats/drinks the product, will they crave the packaging it came in as well? Edible packaging might need to work on its hygienic properties, but this could very well be a solution to our packaging-related environmental worries. When it comes down to it, will you be chowing down on the packaging your food comes in? How do you feel about this new frontier of packaging design?

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