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The Packaging of the Future

Sustainable food packaging solutions coming soon to reduce plastic from your meals

174 million tons of plastic packaging is produced each year, and only a fifth of it is recycled. Single use plastic packaging and containers protect food whilst it’s being transported and extend shelf life with added antioxidants or vacuum-sealing. The issue is that these single-use packages last for hundreds of years, even though they are not intended to be used again. Here are some recent innovations for containers which can be easily cleaned or re-used, or which decompose naturally after they have served their purpose.

In no particular order:

  • Some packaged meal kits (products which provide ingredients for home-cooking) are constructed from heavy paper or ClimaCell, a biological foam that dissolves back into cellulostic fibre after use which can be fed to plants.
  • A Swedish institute is testing a compressed biological container that grows with its contents- for example, as hot water is added to frozen vegetables inside the bowl expands to its full size. It would be fully compostable.

The following two solutions are from a competition held by the Pratt foundation. Find out more at

  • The Pratt challenge- a design challenge for eco-friendly food items- had students designed plastic sheets which could be fitted to take-away containers allowing them to be returned to a collection point, cleaned and used again.
  • Another product from the Pratt challenge was a box made from paperboard whose lid could become a spork. The entire kit would be compostable.

Some US food packaging manufacturers are working on “pods” which can dissolve in water, without affecting the food’s texture, smell or taste. These could contain a pasta sauce, and you add the whole pod to the saucepan where it will dissolve, leaving only the contents.

Thank you for reading, and keep your eyes out for these innovations on sale in a local store.

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