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Spain: Edible packaging formats

Biting into a sandwich and discovering that we have eaten a bit of the wrapping could cease to be an uncomfortable accident, as edible papers, membranes and films, biological materials perfectly assimilated by our body, are an increasingly popular ecological alternative to traditional packaging formats. They are also a way of reducing the weight of the packaging (a fresh food covered with an edible and antibacterial skin will make it possible for its outer protection to be less heavy, or to be made of a less synthetic material than plastic) and generate less waste (an edible paper will end up in our stomach instead of in the trash). Some of these systems have already been marketed successfully; others, for now, continue to be refined in laboratories.

The film that extends the shelf life of fruit
A pioneering university project in 2009 of chemist Javier Osés led to the creation of Proinec, a Navarre-based company that produces natural films based on natural oils. The coating, whose design started as part of his doctoral thesis, is made of "natural ingredients, such as polysaccharides and proteins," and makes it possible to extend the shelf life of fresh cut products, such as cut and peeled fruit. "They prevent the superficial darkening of products like apples, pears, peaches and mangoes," he explains. "In general, edible coatings protect the firmness and quality of the cut product during storage, avoiding its transformation into soft tissues."

The natural wrappings supplied by Osés, whose initial project won the Bancaja Young Entrepreneurs Award, also serve to avoid the transfer of moisture between the elements of a food; for example, between pizza dough and its other ingredients. "The use of these coatings could reduce the now common presence of complex plastics," he explains. "And in cases where their use is necessary, these can be simpler and therefore more recyclable."

Biting without fear of swallowing paper
Paper can be eaten. At least, the paper made by Do Eat; a small Belgian company that manufactures edible wrappings that really have a taste. "Our first idea was: what if we didn't have to wash anything and there was no trash to throw after a snack? It became a kind of vision," tells Daphné Mathy, business manager of the company. "A vision that was to make people change their consumption habits without realising it."

To this end, the founders of Do Eat, the young Thibaut Gilquin and Hélène Hoyois, developed a mouldable material from water and potato starch with a strong enough consistency to contain food. They did it as a final project in 2013, but the experiment came out so well that shortly after they embarked on what they called "their ecological alternative." "Disposable products generate waste and entail a use of resources," says Mathy. "Single-use objects also have a great environmental impact." Do Eat, which won the 101Projets program, co-sponsored by Marc Simoncini, the creator of Meetic, has several product ranges: hamburger and sandwich wrappers, skewers, biscuit sachets, etc. And if we want them to be crunchy, we only need to microwave them.

Source: elpais.com

Publication date: 5/19/2017


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