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