Sustainable packaging methods are being discussed across all industries right now.
Whether for the sake of global warming, resources conservation, animal protection, or otherwise, it’s hard to find a person who is not onboard with contributing to more sustainable ways of living life. Companies around the globe are participating at many different levels. For more on the specific initiatives read Sustainability Initiatives: What are Companies Committing to? One way that packaging has contributed to long term conservation is through edible packaging.
Reducing Waste from Airlines
Airlines spend a half billion dollars annually on cabin waste, which is mostly plastic cups, food wrappers, and other disposable packaging. In addition to recycling efforts, airlines are also integrating waste reduction, and edible packaging options could be the solution:
“Significant advancements in edible packaging have come from biotech companies like Evoware. Based out of Jakarta, Evoware leverages Indonesia’s huge seaweed harvests – more than 10 million tons per year – to produce seaweed-based packaging that’s so eco-friendly it dissolves in hot water. Evoware’s edible product line includes food wrappers, instant coffee packets and sachets for dry seasonings, and it’s all nutrient-dense, containing high levels of fiber, calcium, and vitamins A and C. In its base form, the edible packaging is tasteless and odorless, but it can be infused with different flavorings. The company also produces fully biodegradable packaging for non-edible items like soap and toothpicks.”
There are many food products out there that come with an outer natural shell that naturally provides a protective barrier between the food and environmental damage. Examples include root vegetables, avocados, and bananas. So why add a plastic sticker to the outer layer when a more natural branding process is available?
“Netherlands-based laser technology company Eosta is trying to introduce to the market a real alternative to plastic packaging. In March 2018, Eosta received the Dutch Packaging Award in the sustainability category for its innovative packaging method “natural branding.”
Edible 6-Pack Rings
Edible packaging doesn’t have to feed humans. Plastic rings that hold together 6 cans in a 6-pack are a leading cause of animal deaths that result from pollution. While cutting the rings helps, there’s still concern for resources. A Florida brewery is using an edible 6-pack ring to help reduce waste and save animals:
“Saltwater Brewery in Delray Beach has launched its “Eco Six Pack Rings,” which are strong enough to hold each can, but are made of barley and wheat, which makes them edible. “Besides being 100 percent biodegradable, compostable and edible, they have to be strong enough to hold the weight and difficulty handling of the cans,” said Entelequia Inc. Chief engineer Francisco Garcia in a YouTube video. The plastic rings many breweries use end up in the ocean and end up being ingested by marine life.”
Biotech companies have made huge strides in manufacturing products and ingredients for edible packaging. So far, the biggest challenge is finding substances that can hold up in any environment. Once this problem is solved, it will be up to the food companies to partner with the right packaging company to implement a consumer-ready edible packaging plan.