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New Source For Food Packaging: Food Waste

Several efforts are underway to turn food byproducts into food containers to curb plastic pollution and food waste at the same time.

A wine box made from mushroom flesh sits in the grass

Photo: Mycobond (Wikimedia)

This biodegradable wine package from Ecovative Design is one of many new packaging products that make use of food waste.

Packing materials made of mushrooms, kelp, milk and tomato peels are all in the works.

Amid rising concerns about food waste (up to 40 percent in the U.S.), and demand for sustainable packaging, companies are looking for ways to tackle the two in one fell swoop.

In Italy, a group of researchers is using leftover tomato peels as a lining for cans to replace replace BPA, or Bisphenol A, a controversial chemical that has sparked concerns among some health advocates.

Harvard researchers are developing an alternative to plastic wrap made from shrimp and lobster shells and silk — a product delightfully called Shrilk.

Ecovative, a company based Green Island, New York, has developed compost-ready packaging from mushrooms that can be grown from food waste.

European researchers are even developing ways to use poultry waste products in bio-based packaging to ship poultry products.

Other food-based packaging alternatives are not strictly made of food waste.

A British company, Skipping Rocks Lab, is making “Ooho” containers from edible seaweed.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been working for decades on a film made from surplus milk powder that can be used for cheese wrappers or to line pizza boxes.

Industry experts say many of these products still face hurdles in scaling up production and getting companies to switch from traditional plastics.

Read More:

  • Packaging Food With Food to Reduce Waste (New York Times)
  • EU Poultry Industry To Study Feather-Based Plastics Packaging (Plastics News)
Chad Bouchard

Chad Bouchard is a veteran reporter and WFIU alum who has covered wild and wooly beats from Indonesia to Capitol Hill. His radio work has aired on NPR, PRI and Voice of America, and his writing has appeared in The Sunday Telegraph and Scientific American’s health magazine, Lives. He has also spent a lifetime gardening, foraging and eating weird stuff.

View all posts by this author »

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