The world has an insatiable hunger for food packaging- according to PlasticsEurope, 170 tons per year of plastic packaging alone. But there is one product that promises to revolutionize biodegradable food packaging, putting it in our bellies instead of the landfill.
The product is called WikiCell, and it’s designed after Mother Nature’s original pre-packaged food: fruit. With a biochemical composition and a mission to save the planet, this little pod aims to take the industry up a notch.
WHAT IS WIKICELL?
The idea is the brainchild of David Edwards. In 2009, he teamed up with Harvard Professor Don Ingber, and Francois Azambourg to design the ultimate zero-waste, biodegradable and consumable food packaging. In January of 2012, they presented the tenets of the first edible bottle in a public talk at Harvard Wyss Institute.
The skin of a WikiCell is actually an edible plastic made from algae and calcium. It is airtight, watertight, washable and delicious. Mixing bits of food into the polymer make the skin compliment its contents.
Ice cream may be encased in a cocoa flavored pod, yougurt in a strawberry pod, or orange juice in an orange flavored pod. They have even developed micro grape sized pods that hold a bursting bite of your favorite wine!
KEEP YOUR GERMS OFF MY FOOD!
The whole purpose of packaging is to keep food contained and free of contaminants, right?
If you’re worried about how many hands have touched your WikiCell packaged Rocky Road, you can simply throw the shell away or toss it in the compost pile. It only has a six month shelf life before starting to decompose. Or, like an apple or pear skin, you can wash it off and gobble it up. You may even want to chop up the crunchy chocolate shell and mix it right into your ice cream.
THE FUTURE OF FOOD PACKAGING
“Everything is useful, and everything is good for you,” says Dr. Edwards. For drinks, you will be able to pierce the membrane with a straw kind of like a juice pouch. After sipping up the beverage, you could eat the crunchy shell.
Soup packaged in this edible pod could be purchased, washed off, microwaved, and eaten right out of the pod skin like a bowl.
The first WikiCell product, vanilla ice cream encased in a cookie dough flavored shell, will hit Le Laboratoire’s Lab Store in Paris this fall. The frozen dessert will make its Boston debut in 2013, hopefully followed by WikiCocktail and WikiYogurt.
WikiCell researchers are already working with Danone, Activia, and Evian to develop this unique biodegradable and consumable packaging for probiotic drinks, yogurt, and water. Dr. Edwards is also trying to develop ways for people to create their own edible packaging, hoping to make a difference in places like Africa where they are not able to properly dispose of plastics.
Edwards believes we are moving out of the plastic era. Exchanging our familiar screw-top bottles, square boxes, and plastic tubs for organic-shaped pods will make a huge dent in the amount of food packaging waste littering our planet.