Would you eat the pack?
We all know about the global problem of disposal of plastic packaging. Reports say that of the estimated 260 million tons of plastic the world produces each year, about 10 percent ends up in the ocean, according to a Greenpeace report (Plastic Debris in the World's Oceans, 2006). Seventy percent of the mass eventually sinks, damaging sea life and the seabed. This damage and contamination also impacts the seafood that we eat.
We have all seen the pictures on TV & on email of the tons of plastic waste floating in the oceans & have seen the graphic pictures of the results when sea life mistakes this plastic waste for food.
If 10% ends up in the ocean, then the other 90% goes to landfill – which is another problem all on its own.
There is research afoot at the University of Otago in New Zealand to combat this huge problem!
They posed the question as to what alternative there could be to disposable packaging & their brilliant team have come up with the start of a solution – “an idea”.
The team are using corn & seafood by-products along with water-soluble polymer PVA to make a packaging film, and it may have the potential to replace plastic in the food and animal feed industries! Edible packaging film!
Their research is currently studying the food safety aspects of the packaging and trying to ensure that their solution is effective for all types of food (wet & dry) – but they are well on the way to discovering the best solution to this global problem.
One of the problem thus far is that, as ‘food packaging’ is supposed to protect the food from harm until we eat it, then this new film becomes the food’s protection, however the film itself can then be made inedible through poor handing (say in the supermarket with many people picking up the pack & placing it back on the shelf before it is purchased by the consumer), through poor storage (pests contaminating the pack during storage), general airborne pollutants, dust and chemicals could also settle on the pack – contaminating it.
The team are looking at this problem along with how this new film may be protected itself to ensure the safety of the food.
Great idea and thank goodness someone is trying to come up with a sustainable & food safe solution to this global problem.