Benefits Of Using Plastic On Food Industry

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Veronika Kavun Professor Allen Austin SCI 2000 27 April 2016 Edible Alternatives To Single-Use Plastic In Food Industry Plastic pollution has reached the all-time high. According to recent research, there are already more than 5 trillion plastic pieces weighing over 250 000 tons afloat in the oceans (Eriksen et al., 2014). Sustainablecoastlines.org, a New Zealand Charity dedicated to cleaning up the island’s coastlines, estimates that 72.4% of all plastic pollution in the Pacific oceans consists of single use plastics, 22.5% of which is food wrappers, containers and bottle caps (“Our Impact”). Those numbers spell out an urgency to come up with a sustainable solution that will slow down the production of plastic debris while maintaining…show more content…
Biodegradable plastics, produced from food-based products rather than petroleum, although very promising, still represent a very small percentage of the waste problem. Those should be broken down only in specialized composting facilities through a controlled process that still produces considerable amounts of methane (Dell, 2010). Clearly, the issue needs a completely different approach. Edible alternatives to plastic are the next logical step to solving the contamination problem. Designers of edible packaging borrowed the concept from nature. Just like apple or grape skins, those ultra-thin but strong membranes are capable of holding both liquid and solid foods while being completely washable. Edible plastics can be made from vegetables, fruits or nuts with some chitosan (biopolymer) or alginate (algae extract). Once those particles are gelatinized, they create the firm but edible skin which mimics resistance of conventional plastics. This kind of packaging will still need an outer box or a bag to keep the product clean on the shelf, but the individual servings will no longer have to be ripped open and discarded. Instead, they can be dissolved in hot liquid directly or rinsed off and eaten together with the contents. Some examples of this new zero-waste food industry ideas have already appeared on the
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