While we can take steps to reduce our use of plastics at home by using sustainable reusable products and green disposables, some types of plastic just aren't avoidable. Many of the healthy foods that we purchase in stores come in plastic packaging, and much of it cannot be recycled.
With the plastic problem continuing to plague our planet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is exploring a new way to reduce the amount of plastic waste produced by food. The government is currently working on a packaging that is made out of a nutritious, protein-rich bio-film that would take the place of plastic packs on cheese, lunch meat and similar foods.
Not only would the proposed new material reduce the eco impact of processed foods, but it would also help to reduce food waste. Made from casein protein isolated from milk, the bio-film currently in the works has the ability to provide more protection from oxygen than plastic, blocking up to 250 times more. As a result, food would spoil more slowly. Manufacturers could use fewer preservatives, and we would throw away less food.
While we are still a ways away from being able to eat the packaging that our food comes in, the project is exciting. The researchers hope that once the bio-film is perfected, they'll be able to make thicker versions for coffee packets and hot soups. There is also hope that the technology will lead to the development of natural preservatives and additives that could be used to enhance the consistency and lifespan of foods like cereal and granola bars without the need for added chemicals.
There is no word yet about when the first edible packaging might be complete. We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, we want to know what you think--would you buy food in edible packaging?