5 sustainable and affordable packaging alternatives

Forget plastic bags and cardboard boxes, businesses should be looking at these alternative and sustainable packaging alternatives

1. Edible films and wraps

These starch-based products have been around for a while, but at the US Department of Agriculture they’re now developing a film made of milk protein. In South Korea they’ve been looking at animal protein.

2. Algae-based packaging

Agar prototype by designer Kosuke Araki can provide cushioned packaging for perfume bottles

If you boil up seaweed you get a gelatinous substance called agar. This can be used to create textures that can replace bubble wrap and foam packaging. Researchers in Japan, Lithuania and Spain are pioneers.

3. Mushroom-based containers
Biomaterials company Ecovative is developing packaging made from fungi

Grown from agricultural by-products, this so called myco-foam is produced from mycelium, a fungal network of threadlike cells, which are like the roots of mushrooms. Ecovative in the United States is at the forefront of this technology.

4. Cellulose, fibre and resin
Discarded banana stem fibre is being used for food packaging

Bananas, coconut, softwood forestry by-products, as well as grasses and cereal stalks all have the potential to become bioplastics. Some materials can be heated, melted, and injected into moulds, which is crucial if they’re to compete with petroleum-based plastics.

5. Plant-based polymers

Tomorrow Machine has created a food and beverage case made from caramelised sugar that cracks like an egg

Biopolymers can be made from corn or potato starch, even sugarcane. Long molecular chains such as polylactic acid can be derived from annually renewable resources. A number of companies from New Zealand to Thailand produce this.

Read the full article, ‘Making innovative packaging affordable’ here >