Edible packaging is coming to you soon, whether it will be made from seaweed, sugar cane or seafood. Some 10 years ago, Professor Nory Mulyono started making packaging from seaweed in a room in her fiancé’s house. Now head of the Food Technology Department at the Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia, Mulyono says: “I knew that we could reduce the amount of plastic waste … So my fiancé and I converted a room in his home into a mini laboratory and started to develop biodegradable packaging.”
Fast-forward to 2019 and Mulyono is now also co-founder and chief of research and development at Evoware, based in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta. Launched in 2016, the start-up has had significant success in selling edible cups called ‘Ello Jello’, as well as edible packaging including food films, burger wraps and coffee and noodle-flavouring sachets. The products are odourless, tasteless and, importantly, meet stringent food safety standards.
Why seaweed? Indonesia is the second largest producer of seaweed in the world, next to China, with production rising by some 30 per cent a year. Evoware sources Eucheuma seaweed, which Indonesia farms in abundance. Eandt.theiet.org quoted Mulyono as saying: “By using this we can improve the livelihoods of local farmers. “It is also a healthy food, has no allergy risk, is organic and cheap – we are optimistic that it is feasible to use on a mass scale. Seaweed cultivation is also really fast compared to terrestrial plants, with one cycle taking only 45 days.”