Edible Bottles Could Take Plastic Out of the Global Equation

Food and beverage packaging is one of the largest categories of solid waste in landfills today. Ever since we started packing everything in plastic, our garbage dumps have quickly filled up with the stuff. Is there a solution? A Harvard professor named David A. Edwards thinks that there is…and he’s invented it. His product is called WikiCells, and it consists of edible and/or biodegradable packaging that can be peeled right off of food items and either eaten or composted. The idea could revolutionize the packaging industry, making plastic packaging unnecessary.

Edwards’ concept (pictured at top) would put a very thin natural food membrane around liquid or solid food items. The membrane is held on by electrostatic forces and can be easily peeled off. Inside the membrane there could be another, slightly more robust edible shell to protect the edible item within. The concept sounds great from an environmental standpoint, but we have to wonder how sanitary it could possibly be. The membrane would have to be tough and washable like the skin of an apple so that it could be sanitized before eating. According to Edwards, the concept could be rolled out first in restaurants and then in specialty supermarkets. Here’s to someday drinking our wine out of little edible grape-style packages!

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See more in New Materials or under Science. March, 2012.
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