A walk down any street will reveal the numerous garbage cans and waste bins that dot cities in an attempt to keep them clean. Of course, these result from the countless refuse that people dispose off every day from cans to bottles to leftover food and every sort of packaging imaginable. While many of these items may be recyclable, many are not and pose quite a risk to the environment. Plastic wrapping found on just about everything is particularly alarming, as they do not bio-degrade. Health warnings and punishment by civil authorities notwithstanding, people still litter and the problem remains very pertinent.
But what if you had packaging that could not only bio-degrade, but also be eaten? Well, that is exactly what a group of researchers have tried to come up with their possibly revolutionary new edible food packaging known as WikiCells. Led by Harvard Professor Dr., the group of French researchers have come up with packaging for everything, "yoghurt pots, juice cartons, water bottles and ice cream containers," that is essentially an edible membrane, made out of an edible plastic that is made up of algae and calcium. This edible packaging or WikiCells mimics the skin or outer layers of many fruits and vegetables in that if consumers wish to eat them they can. Otherwise the WikiCells can easily be "peeled" away and discarded, eventually bio-degrading.
Speaking about WikiCells, Dr. Edwards said, “The idea was to use the model of how nature wraps foods. It is a completely new way of packaging and eating.”
The edible plastic of WikiCells can be used for both solids and liquids and in both instances customers will not have to worry about waste. The WikiCells will actually be flavored and can be eaten in a variety of ways. In the latter case, all one will have to do is pierce the WikiCell to drink the contents inside and then eat it, while in the former case, one could eat the WikiCell along with the solid contents inside, much like fruit.
The WikiCell is expected to have a shelf life of around 6 months and again very much like fruit, it can be washed while keeping the contents inside dry.
The researchers have revealed some of the WikiCells they have created such as an orange flavored one for orange juice and cookie dough flavored one for ice cream that may just be released to markets soon.
Dr. Edwards added, “You could put the little grape membranes in your mouth whole and squash them so you get the wine inside. Everything is useful and everything is good for you. You don’t throw things away.”
While it has not been revealed just who WikiCells is being developed for, it is believed that Dr. Edwards is working with a "fizzy drinks manufacturer and a yoghurt maker" and WikiCell products to be sold within the next five years.