FOOD: discover the edible packaging trend
Fun, eco-responsible and trendy, edible packaging is taking over the food world! Zoom in on this ecological trend.
Do you know that? Every year, more than 300 million tons of plastic are produced. And according to many estimates, almost half of this is used to make single-use objects.
Cutlery, packaging, bags, cups… All these objects are instantly thrown away after use. The problem? This plastic waste accumulates and pollutes the planet, and more specifically the oceans and all the species that live there, in a sustainable way.
Fortunately, ecological awareness is growing and scientists are working on more environmentally friendly alternatives. This is particularly true for the edible and biodegradable packaging that is currently in vogue.
But what is edible packaging?
Edible packaging is packaging and container that both protect food and can be eaten. They are fun and innovative, and are also environmentally friendly as they drastically reduce the production of plastic and avoid waste.
What materials are they made from?
There are a range of foodstuffs capable of producing edible packaging, but not all have the same advantages and disadvantages. Currently, research and production are mainly based on wheat bran, potato starch, sorghum, rice flour and seaweed. Mixed with water, most of these materials form a kind of solid paste which is then used as packaging.
Testers are now trying to make a difference between these materials by analyzing the flaws in the materials and determine the best candidates for edible packaging.
And so far, the winners are starch and seaweed!
Currently, the best-known edible containers are made from brown seaweed and plants. Developed in 2013 by two British designers, this technology follows a precise process of drying the plant mixture to a powder which is then transformed into a thick, viscous fluid. Once dried, this material becomes plastic-like and can be shaped as desired.
The designers this such innovative material, Notpla, told Business Insider that the specific seaweed used for edible packaging is perfect in every way: “It’s one of the most abundant resources. You don’t need any fertilizer or water. One of the used seaweeds even grows up to a meter in one day. In addition to being fast, they are also unexpensive to produce and are able to self-degrade in four to six weeks. A nice and easy way to avoid waste, isn’t it?
What does edible packaging taste like?
Would you like to bite into a chocolate flavored bag or devour a strawberry flavored tray?
At the moment, it isn’t possible yet and it’s also not the researchers’ favorite path.
Actually, to avoid distorting the food’s taste, edible packaging is nowadays mostly tasteless.
Sometimes edible films and coatings do have a taste. But in this case, their significant flavor and the sensory characteristics of the packaging must be compatible and appropriate to those of the food.
A practical case? Water capsules!
One of the best-known products in edible packaging is the water caps. Made from seaweed, these small, flexible, liquid-filled bubbles can be crunched like cherry tomatoes and then swallowed or composted. Tasteless and odorless, they are the perfect alternative to plastic bottles!
Customized and sustainable packaging