Going Green: Researchers in the UK Create Edible Food Packaging

Food packing

Did you know? Over 1.2 billion meters of cling film is used across Britain every year. The interesting part is that this amount of cling film is enough to wrap the world 30 times over.

Yet, this astounding fact has a gruesome future. That is because cling films are either dumped in the sea or the landfill due to their inability to get recycled.

Food packing

As a result, they harm the environment by radiating harmful toxins. Moreover, there have been multiple cases of turtles and other fishes getting choked on the cling films. As they mistakenly eat them due to their resemblance to a jellyfish.

Is recyclable cling film the way to go? Apparently, a team of researchers led by Professor Saffa Riffat from the University of Nottingham has an even better idea. His team of innovators plans to introduce a plant-based alternative for food packaging. Not only will this kind of cling film be eco-friendly but it will be edible too. How cool is that?

The Background

Professor Riffat supervises the Sino-UK project from his base camp at Nottingham’s Faculty of Engineering. The aim behind this particular assignment was the search to find a biodegradable alternative to plastic wraps and other food packaging.

The good doctor told an interviewer that,

“Plastic materials have been in use for around a century, their poor degradability is now known to cause serious environmental harm…We need to find degradable solutions to tackle plastic pollution, and this is what we are working on.”

The Discovery

The UK based researchers started to study the structure and functionality of organic materials. Their goal was to find something durable enough to work for food packaging. This quest directed them towards plant carbohydrates and protein macromolecules. Evidently, these molecules easily bond together to form compounds that can be used to build the eco-friendly cling film.

Moreover, they can be shaped and designed to appear as the transparent cling films that are in use today. The best part is that this particular film has a sturdy structure that can withstand the pressure of being used in food packaging.

The researchers are currently developing a cling film that uses starch, konjac flour, cellulose or proteins as its source. These organic raw materials are completely edible. Therefore, they don’t pose any threat to the wildlife or marine life that accidently ingests them. Plus, the high rate of biodegradability reduces risk to the environment too.

Sounds fascinating! Doesn’t it?

The Other Benefits

However, environmental safety is not the only thing on the professor’s agenda.

In his own words,

“The packaging materials we are working on have low gas permeability, making them more airtight. This feature cuts moisture loss, which slows down spoilage, and seals in the flavour. This is of great importance for the quality, preservation, storage, and safety of foods.”

In a nutshell, this rendition of eco-friendly cling films will result in a:

  • Better Storage
  • Safer Usage
  • Longer Shelf Life

Henceforth, you won’t just get biodegradable food packaging. Rather this invention will give customers access to fresher produce.  However, the plant-based films are yet to hit the superstores and food service industries, as the project is still underway.

Until then, we suggest our readers use biodegradable food packaging from manufacturers that have conservation as part of their motto.


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