In July, Tetra Pak released a report which revealed that 75% of consumers are seeking environmentally sound packaging, and that the availability of this packaging affects their choice of drinks brands. The development of eco-packaging is nothing new; however, these recent statistics may still come as a shock as they suggest that eco-packaging isn’t just for the sake of the environment but now for the sake of keeping a brand alive.
Inspired by this new report, we’ve identified some of the most innovative packaging solutions available on the market. Although in many cases, the applications of these solutions are limited, the research and development showcases the importance of moving beyond the days of the landfill into an innovative and cleaner future.
All pictures can be found on FoodBev’s Pinterest boards.
Designed by inventor Jim Warner, the Paper Water bottle is made from a special blend of organic material including sugar cane, bamboo, bagasse, and wheat straw. After initially featuring a lid that peeled into two pieces, it now offers a cap for convenience. When asked about his inspiration, Warner said: “Only 14% of [water bottles] are recycled. I wanted to create something that challenged the ‘norms’ and was sustainable, elegant and practical.”
UK-based company Vegware has designed a completely compostable range of tableware, cups and cutlery. Made from plants, trees, corn and sugar cane, the materials are sustainably sourced, low carbon and all can be recycled with food waste. See our interview with communication director
Lucy Frankel about Vegware’s creations.
A New York-based company, Ecovative, has developed a mushroom-based material that can be used for food and beverage packaging, and to make surf boards, furniture and insulation. The company described the beverage packaging as “a high-performance alternative to molded or fabricated EPS, EPP and EPE. Unlike plastics, which come from unsustainable petrochemicals, mushroom materials start with plant-based farm waste and can end up in your garden, fully compostable.”
US-based brand Loliware has created edible cups designed to be eaten once the drink has been consumed – “biodegr(edible)” if you will. Once consumed, any remnants can be composted. The cups are made entirely of vegetable gelatine called agar-agar. Although not suitable for hot beverages, the loliware cups can hold most beverages for 24 hours and are each flavoured to complement certain drinks.
In Germany, two companies are trialling the production of packaging made from food waste. “Successful trials have been made using wheat straw, because it was available and allowed us to test the principle,” revealed Zelfo Technology. “However, almost all fibre-based crop residue or waste sources are suitable for conversion to packaging using the [technology].”
Read more about the technology here.
Developed by bio-creator and Harvard professor David Edwards, Wikipearls are a revolutionary, plastic-free, food and beverage packaging solution. Made from “natural, edible, biodegradable foods and nutrients,” the Wikipearl skin can coat a range of foods, including ice cream, cheese and fruit, and acts as a protective and edible coating. Wikipearl’s collaboration with Stonyfield won them several awards in last year’s Dairy Innovation Awards.
In an attempt to solve the problem of landfill and ocean pollution, last year, three students from Imperial College London designed an edible water bottle, the Ooho. Using a technique called sphereification, a frozen ball of water was given a gelatinous “jelly-fish like” layer by dipping it into a calcium chloride solution. The ball was then soaked in a solution of brown algae. Due to the fact that the “skin” is so thin, transporting the bottle proves extremely difficult and there are many limitations to its usefulness, but its creation is an innovation in the right direction.
A research group from Spain has identified that various properties of chitosan, a film made from the shells of crustaceans, can be used as an alternative film packaging in the preservation of food. This film packaging not only helps the environment because it re-uses a form of food waste, but also because it is biodegradable.
Read more about chitosan film here.
Sugar and beeswax
The next two creations come from Swedish design studio Tomorrow Machine. The project, entitled This Too Shall Pass, was inspired by the expiration date of milk. It is a series of food packages where the packaging has the same short life span as the foods they contain. “The package and its content are working in symbiosis,” the developers said.
This packaging, designed to hold extra virgin olive oil, was made from caramelised sugar and coated with wax. It cracks open like an egg. Once the packaging has been cracked, the wax no longer protects the sugar and the package melts when it comes in contact with water. Another of the company’s designs was for packaging dry goods such as rice. It was made from biodegradable beeswax and opened by peeling it, like a fruit.
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