Product packaging has become an unavoidable requirement in our grab-and-go, big box store society. Take a second to consider the unfathomable quantity of straws and coffee cups sitting in landfills right now, just from Starbucks and Wawa alone. Now, expand that to include every other piece of trash generated from the packaging industry as a whole. We’re lucky the Earth hasn’t become one giant landfill!
Many companies have committed themselves to minimizing the waste produced from packaging by either switching to recyclable parts or making their packages reusable. This reduce, reuse, recycle trend is starting to gain speed, which is helping to curb the fact that food wrapping and containers alone contribute 23 percent of packaging-related landfill additions annually. One of the most exciting and surprising ways that crafty entrepreneurs are trying to resolve the packaging waste dilemma actually involves edible packaging.
Edible packaging is an intriguing and innovative idea that eliminates the need for materials created with fossil fuels, like plastics, and could significantly decrease the waste that ends up in landfills. It is estimated that the edible packaging market will be valued at $1.1 billion by 2023, so it’s certainly a trend to pay attention to!
One company, Loliware, has created edible cups made using seaweed and organic sweeteners. The cups vary in colors and flavors like vanilla bean, tart cherry, and citrus. At $16 for a pack of four, the affordability isn’t quite established, but it’s an important stepping stone and will draw attention to the need for smarter, less wasteful packaging. Loliware is even partnering with a nutrition company to develop a line of cups containing dietary supplements and minerals. Imagine drinking your water, then eating your cup and getting protein or electrolytes at the same time!
Other developers are working on milk-based cheese wraps, dissolving milk pods for coffee, and other totally unique alternatives to standard packaging. Only time will tell if these products can overcome logistical challenges to capture a steady share of the market, but it’s an exciting prospect to consider!