Edible Packaging

We know that packaging makes up a large portion of the waste stream today. A paper published by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers highlights a new type of edible packaging designed by the Agricultural Research Service together with the Western Regional Research Center. The edible packaging is made of food and vegetables, that can be used to store food and also can be eaten, and in themselves, contain nutritional benefits! It could not be used alone, though, in places with unsanitary conditions nor could it be used during transport and storage; however, it would ideally be used for packaging leftovers in the refrigerator, or food carried in a lunch bag. Considering 1.8 million tons of packaging waste is dumped into landfills each year, this may reduce some of the waste. Moreover, they were experimenting with different ingredients to make the film that would be the protective coating. They used apple puree, and various lipid-based concentrations.

A few years ago, during high school, I did a co-op program at the University of Western, and worked in a chemical laboratory, harvesting bacteria to make cellulose. Cellulose was originally found in fruits, (in Japan, it was first commericially harvested from a rotten black cherry), but today it is used in a variety of ways and across many sectors. Its strong and resilient, yet flexible properties makes it versatile, lending itself to products such as medical tools, wound dressings, personal hygiene products, and also it is used in low-fat drinks (it doesn’t have any calories, but it makes the drink thicker). I’m curious whether they’ve considered this type of technology for their use in edible packaging. They probably have…

6 Responses to “Edible Packaging”

  1. sieber says:

    Very interesting. Any indication if the primary idea is that a. humans will eat it; b. animals will eat it; or c. it will degrade?

    Another question is whether this stuff will degrade in a sanitary landfill?

  2. sieber says:

    I have an idea. GMO edible packaging! That way we can engineer all the nutrition we want into the packaging!

  3. Pete says:

    This would be ideal for junk food snacks that have no nutrients anyway. You could have a snack that was all packaging, with lables and ads in layers all the way to the center. The final triumph of style over substance.

    As for decaying in a landfill, my understanding is that nothing decays in a landfill, not even food, since it is anoxic.

  4. Hannah says:

    My friend was telling me that they don’t really have this thing on the market yet, or it’s not as popular
    as they expected. If it got used in the fast food industry, that would be awesome! Think of all the packaging
    especially that goes into the fast food industry, and it would make that sector “healthier”. Apparently in Denmark
    there is a company that uses edible packaging in the packaging of dogfood…something Canada and the US should
    look into…but the other question is, how much energy goes into the production of this packaging, is it less than
    the packaging today?

  5. lorna says:

    no.this is silly. i think the only edible packaging that has been around for a while and will work is pastry and such on sausage rolls etc. silly silly people