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Over the last few years, packaging companies have become increasingly concerned about finding ways to overcome the devastating effects that single-use plastic has on the planet. With 20 million tons of plastic waste floating about in the ocean, the situation is no laughing matter.
One brilliant, but seemingly far-fetched idea, to solve the problem is edible packaging. It is hard to imagine walking into a store, buying a bar of chocolate, and then eating the packaging of the product. Yet, some companies have successfully managed to turn this idea into a reality.
Back in 2017, researchers at the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) managed to develop an edible, biodegradable packaging film made out of casein, which is a milk protein. Since then, other companies have jumped on the bandwagon as well.
For instance, disposable products manufacturer and supplier, Herald Plastic, have created a range of edible straws. These straws come in a range of flavours, and have proved to be a hit in the European club scene. It would be extremely helpful for the environment if edible straws such as this became the norm, considering that plastic straws take up to 200 years to decompose.
Edible drink pouches have also been invented by the UK start-up company Skipping Rocks Lab. These pouches are made from Notpla, a material composed of seaweed and plants that disappears naturally. They were first distributed to runners at the 2019 London Marathon. Notpla is now being used as a plastic free solution to sauce pots and condiment sachets (which are featured on Just Eat). If not consumed, Notpla will biodegrade within four weeks.
Furthermore, Avani, an Indonesian sustainable solutions company, has invented an edible eco-bag to address the issue of pollution within the oceans. As the majority of plastic ends up within the ocean, their bags (made of cassava root starch) can be consumed by land and marine animals. In fact, us humans can also eat the bags! They just need to be dissolved in water first.
All in all, these inventions are incredibly promising in terms of aiding environmental sustainability. Hopefully, in the future, their presence will become the new normal in shops and restaurants.
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