Edible Food Packaging is the Future of Zero Waste

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Our Thursday green news brings you the latest on green architecture, climate change, energy and communities:

edible food packaging, edible cups, reducing food waste

Photo courtesy of Loliware

  • Edible food packaging is the future of zero waste: According to the UK government’s waste advisor Wrap, UK households wasted about 4.2 tons of food and drink packaging in 2012 alone, therefore designers and product visionaries have been working hard in recent years on developing edible food packing. For instance, a new food packaging product called WikiPearl, designed by a Harvard professor and biomedical engineer David Edwards, is a soft, durable and water-resistant edible membrane, made from natural food particles. The goal of the WikiPearl (formerly WikiCell), which is designed to protect a bite-size portion of food that it’s encasing, is to eliminate wasteful packaging and make its relationship with food more symbiotic. As Eric Freedman of WikiFoods explained: “It’s important we don’t only look at this as a way to reduce plastics in packaging, but also in the context of how nature creates its own biodegradable packaging, like the skins of fruits.” WikiFoods based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been collaborating with the dairy company Stonyfield to apply the WikiPearl technology to frozen yogurt products, and a new product called Frozen Yogurt Pearls is already available at selected Whole Foods stores in the US. Another idea by the Swedish design duo Tomorrow Machine involves packaging such as a container that dissolves with its contents, but the product is still in a prototype phase. The design team has previously designed a wrapper that transforms into a bowl when water is poured on it. A start up company from New York called Loliware developed a range of colorful, edible cups made from agar, a vegetarian substitute for gelatine. As the founders Chelsea Briganti and Leigh Ann Tucker explain: “Our solution is to eat the cup, because they’re fun and they taste great, or just compost them. Either way, you’re contributing to the solution, instead of the plastic problem.”
  • Is Airbnb the new green hotel alternative? Room and apartment-sharing online platform called Airbnb has been in business since 2008, and its impact on local economies as well as environment has been significant. The company has recently done an extensive study in collaboration with the Cleantech Group (CTG) to measure their impact on the environment. In Europe alone, CTG found that Airbnb guests use 78 percent less energy than hotel guests, amount that equals to powering about 68,000 homes for an entire year. Using an Airbnb accommodation also produces 89 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of removing 200,000 cars from the road. Hotels consume huge amounts of water, while guests staying on Airbnb in Europe saved enough water to fill 1,100 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The study has found that the Airbnb community overall is quite environmentally aware. Less than half of Airbnb hosts provide single-use toiletries, and Airbnb guests are 10 to 15 percent more likely to use public transportation, walk or bicycle as their primary mode of transport. 89 percent of European hosts also offer recycling to their guests.
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