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Waste-free, Willy Wonka packaging is coming but are consumers ready for it?

October 21, 2014

Waste-free, Willy Wonka packaging is coming but are consumers ready for it?

If Willy Wonka did packaging, it’d probably look something like the WikiPearl ? a soft, durable and water-resistant edible membrane, made from natural food particles, designed to protect a bite-size portion of food that it’s encasing. Created by David Edwards, a Harvard professor and biomedical engineer, the intention of the WikiPearl (formerly WikiCell) is to kill the packaging and make its relationship with food symbiotic.

“It’s important we don’t only look at this as a way to reduce plastics in packaging, but also in the context of how nature creates its own biodegradable packaging, like the skins of fruits,” says Eric Freedman of WikiFoods. The company, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has collaborated with the organic dairy business Stonyfield to apply the WikiPearl technology to yogurt. The Frozen Yogurt Pearls (think, small scoops of ice cream) come in coconut, peach and strawberry flavoured skins and are being sold at selected Whole Foods stores in the US.

According to the government’s waste advisor Wrap, households in the UK threw out 4.2m tonnes of food and drink waste in 2012. Rethinking packaging is a popular topic of conversation for sustainability wonks and designers. Recently, the Swedish duo Tomorrow Machine showcased a series of utopian packaging that included a container that dissolves with its contents. They have previously designed a wrapper that transforms into a bowl when water is poured on it. Tomorrow Machine’s founders admit that it will be a several years before such concepts are adopted commercially, so while we wait to be able to wash our packaging down the sink with plate scrapings, we’re encouraged to masticate as well as reduce, reuse, recycle.

Read more at The Guardian.

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