In an article published on May 30, 2017 by the newspaper The New York Times, journalist Stephanie Strom reported on companies and researchers developing food packaging materials made from excess food. For example, a research team from the U.S. Department of Agriculture developed an edible, biodegradable packaging film from milk protein that can be used to line pizza boxes, or for food wrappers and pouches (FPF reported). U.S. company Ecovative uses mushroom mycelium in combination with agricultural waste sourced from regional farmers to grow a material that can be used as packaging foam. In the scope of the project Biocopac Plus, coordinated by the Experimental Station for the Food Preserving Industry in Parma, Italy, a food can lining has been developed from peels remaining after tomato processing. The researchers extracted a natural polymer from tomato skins to produce a lacquer for metal cans. The product is an alternative to bisphenol A-based coatings and can be used “to pack tomatoes, peas, meat, fish, all kinds of foods that are canned,” Strom informed. Researchers from Harvard University, U.S., have extracted chitosan from shrimp shells and combined it with silk protein to create a biodegradable plastic material called Shrilk. It can be used to make egg cartons or wrap for vegetables. Another example is U.K. company Skipping Rocks Lab that has developed an edible, spherical packaging material made from seaweed. The packaging is called Ooho! and can be used “to hold water, juices, cosmetics and other liquids” (FPF reported).

Many efforts to develop packaging from food have been financially supported by governments, Strom noted. However, commercializing these new packaging products remains challenging. Mike Lee from company Future Market, forecasting trends in food production, stated: “Until someone steps up and says, ‘I’m going to use it on a big scale,’ they’re just science looking for an application.”

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Stephanie Strom (May 30, 2017). “Packaging food with food to reduce waste.The New York Times