What’s next: Ecofriendly edible plastics

Edible plastics

As we know it

Plastics have definitely created a huge problem in the world today. Landfills and ocean islands of plastic threaten to choke life on earth. Everyone has slowly woken up to the fact that plastics and non-biodegradable materials have to go. While newer, greener materials are being researched into, plastics continue to be used in day to day life.

Need for change

A startling research revelation states that all plastics that are being currently used to pack foods and goods contain a chemical compound called Bisphenol A (BPA) in ’safe quantities’. This is actually a plasticizer, but even the bare minimum amount causes increased risk to heart problems and diabetes. This BPA finds its way into the foods easily through the packaging. There is an urgent need to find some alternative or get slowly poisoned with BPA.

What’s next?





‘Edible’ plastics have arrived on the scene. It’s time to push away the petroleum-based plastics. These have been made completely from natural produce and thus they are bio degradable. Some of them have added flavors to make them an edible snack too!

1. Jell-O edible glasses

Jell-O edible glasses

What’s new?

Every time there is a party, there are hundreds of disposable cups that are used. The material used in these glasses is plastic of different kinds. And this plastic is being added to the environment, choking our planet because it is not bio-degradable. That is going to change now. Here are cups and glasses made from agar which is 100 percent bio degradable. The novelty here is that the glasses themselves can be consumed!

What difference will it make?





The glasses come in different colors and flavors! This adds an entirely new dimension to consuming drinks and beverages. Just imagine yourself drinking some cool lemonade on a hot sunny day. And imagine drinking it from a lemon-yellow colored glass which is also lemon flavored and can be eaten as you sip! A healthy snack with a refreshing drink! The Jell-O glasses are available in ginger-mint, lemon-basil and rosemary-beet flavors already. Even if disposed, they will simply add color to the landscape for a few days before breaking down completely. The seaweed extract they are made of will add nutrition to growing plants.

Problems

Hmmm…we cannot think of any problems as such. Maybe there is the chance of getting your apple drink in a lemon flavored glass which may not be so tasty! It may be also!

2. Metabolix Bioplastics

Metabolix  Bioplastics





What’s new?

Whenever we have heard the term plastics, the creation term associated with it is ‘manufacturing’. Metabolix has managed to associate plastics with a new creation term – ‘growing’! Yes! Combining various genes of switch grass, the company has succeeded in growing a polyhydroxybutyrate polymer which it calls Mirel.

What difference will it make?

When made commercially viable and available, Mirel can be the packaging material for foods, agricultural products and consumer goods. This is because it is tough, heat-resistant and durable. And once it serves its purpose, it can simply be discarded for it is completely bio-degradable. You could use it in your compost pits. Even the plant that remains after the polymer has been extracted can become part of the biomass that can be processed into energy.

Problems

The solution looks very neat and elegant. Getting the world to accept and adopt this kind of polymer may take some sweat for it would mean shutting down the existing plastic producing plants which manufacture polymers from petroleum products.

3. Plantic Edible Plastic

Eatable Edible Plastic

What’s new?

Most of the packaging today is done through plastics. This is especially true of food products that need to be kept moisture-proof. Plantic combines the terms ‘plant’ and ‘plastic’ and refers to a completely bio-degradable plastic. People have gone to the extent of eating it too! And all that is to prove that it is also edible.

What difference will it make?

Plantic is definitely not a recipe that you would include in your banquet! It tastes like stale bread. But the very fact that it can be eaten shows that we have hit upon a good ‘plastic’ that is also environmental friendly. Made from corn starch, the ‘plastic’ is colored using naturally occurring plant dyes.

Problems

Plantic is made from plant starches. This brings in mind the doubt as to whether it is fungus and bacteria proof! If it is not, then it would make no sense of storing foodstuffs there.