Think Like a Banana

Here’s a thought. Instead of banging our heads against a wall figuring out how to efficiently recycle or otherwise dispose of plastic used in food production, such as yogurt containers, we create containers that are as edible (or compostable) as the food itself. God, my pig would be happy. I can’t say he’s overly concerned with ethical consumption principles, but maybe we could turn him around if we tossed him a batch of yummy containers every day.

Mr. Piggie

The earth would be pretty happy too. The volume of oil used every year in the production of plastics is around five per cent of the world’s total oil consumption. Approximately 40 per cent of all plastics are used in packaging. I don’t know what percent of that is food packaging, but after a tour of my local supermarket, where everything is cosseted in plastic, I’d say it’s a hunk.

A wall of plastic in the supermarket

So let me introduce you to WikiCell, which might well be the packaging of the future. They have developed a nutritional skin held together by healthy ions like calcium, produced from particles of chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, or other natural substances. How cool is that? Their first commercial product (in France, for now) is ice cream in a non-melting chocolate package. I’m guessing that you wash it before you eat it, like an apple? Maybe you just peel it, like a banana, and toss it to Mr. Piggie.

The red substance is yogurt, in its edible container

Science and human ingenuity got us into the plastic mess we’re in, and it can get us out. WikiCell was invented by Harvard professor David Edwards, and his designer collaborator François Azambourg. Dr. Edwards is the founder of an international creativity movement called ArtScience Labs. Other companies are playing with the idea of true biodegradable plastics as well, such as Finland’s VTT, which is developing polymers derived from sugar. Talk about a happy pig!

Ice cream in its non-melting container