Since its invention, plastic has been a critical part of our lives. From supermarket shelves to the Tupperware containers, bottles, etc., it is almost omnipresent. Perhaps more than what we asked for!
In the early 2000s, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that over 97 percent of 2517 samples of plastic collected showed traces of BPA (Bisphenol A) a chemical that may disrupt the function of natural hormones in human body. We are exposed to BPA through plastic food packaging.
Besides a direct threat to human health, 10 percent of the total waste generated in cities is plastic packging that goes directly to the dump sites endangering the environment, clogging the waterways and threatening the lives of animals and birds.
A decade later, in the early 2010s, people have found a unique solution to the growing plastic epidemic – edible packaging.
Loliware in America introduced edible cups called Lolivita which are biodegredible and edible. Lolivita is said to be 100 percent plastic free, gluten free, natural, FDA approved, and non-GMO. The cup comes in various fruits and vegetable flavors and is made out of a gelatinous structure. Though it is edible, eating it is optional. If you’re not comfortable with the idea, you can rest assured for it is biodegradable within two months. The founders Tucker and Briganti at once point said that they wanted to find a solution to the plastic use and wastage.
Loliware’s edible cups are not only an innovative alternative to a persistent and rampant problem, it likens a new era in food industry. It caters to the growing number of citizens in developing countries who are looking for a sustainable way of enjoying their favorite drink without hurting the nature for posterity.
In fact, US department of agriculture is looking into an environment-friendly film made of milk protein casein, which is out to replace the plastic. KFC in the UK is also experimenting with coffee cups which are made out of cookie. The inside is coated with heat-resistant white chocolate. Even Lavazza, the famous Italian coffee brand, smartly sought to appease the patrons with their hip edible cups. These Cookie Cup are the brainchild of the designer Enrique Sardi and Lello Parisi, a confectioner are available in coconut and wild flowers among others.
Of course these innovations don’t come cheap. That and the fact that it will take an aggressive amount of marketing to totally push plastic off the shelves is what might limit edible packaging to a niche market. However, future looks inviting for this industry. Research estimates that the growth of this industry will be at a CAGR of 6.90 percent in the next few years, raking in over a billion dollars of business.
It is certainly not a bad number for an industry that’s taking baby steps towards sustainability and zero-waste.
Sachi Mulmi is a researcher with Frost & Sullivan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sapan Agarwal drives content and marketing for Frost & Sullivan. Sapan is based out of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and can be reached at email@example.com | +603 6204 5830