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Researchers are making great strides in producing edible food packaging – that is, packaging that is either safe to eat, or has the ability to efficiently biodegrade. This type of packaging is made from a variety of natural materials and is usually designed to replace plastic products.
Have your plastic and eat it, too?
Well, not quite. The companies that make these products source a variety of bio-materials to make edible packaging, including plant by-products, seaweed and casein (a milk protein), among others. Some packaging is designed to be consumed with the product it holds (like water you can eat), whereas some is used in place of plastic items, like six pack rings that are safe for human and animal consumption.
The main advantage to using edible packaging is that it reduces the amount of plastic waste produced and reduces the need for recycling. Another interesting advantage is that some edible food packaging items can actually have vitamins, probiotics and other nutrients added to them. For example, a single-serving coffee packet that, when dissolved in hot water, adds vitamins to the coffee to make it more nutritious.
So, why don't more companies use edible food packaging?
Despite the benefits of edible food packaging, there are still some drawbacks. The main concern with many types of edible packaging is that they are water-soluble, meaning that they break down in water and have a shorter shelf life than other packaging options. Allergies are another major factor to consider with edible food packaging. Since natural materials are used to make the packaging, people with food allergies to those materials may be restricted from consuming them. So, depending on the product, its packaging, and method of storage and shipping, these edible packages may not be the right fit for every company.
What's coming next?
There’s no doubt that edible food packaging is a huge leap in the right direction, but it’s important to remember that using it should be done as part of an overall waste reduction strategy. Recycling, and learning how to do it properly, are other great ways to help reduce waste and protect our environment.
Contact us to learn more about how to make your food packaging practices more sustainable...