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A group of US researchers created an edible wrapper made of casein, perfect for single-serve packages.
Imagine you’re walking down the street and you feel like eating a candy. You find one in your pocket, unwrap it, and realize there’s no trash can in sight for miles. According to some scientists, you should (and could) just eat the candy wrap.
The circular economy sometimes takes unexpected turns. The idea of replacing traditional plastic food packaging with edible film is not exactly new. However, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) believe they have made a significant breakthrough in terms of enhancing the performance characteristics of such materials creating a film made of milk proteins.
The team of researchers led by Peggy Tomasula and Laetitia Bonnaillie used casein, a specific milk protein, mixing it with salts and citrus pectin to produce a strong and moist-resistant material that looks similar to cling film, but is fully edible.
The new film is not as stretchy as regular plastic wrapping, but it is resistant enough to make package products. The researchers also claim that the casein film is several hundred times better at keeping oxygen away from food than currently marketed plastic solutions. This is a significant advantage compared with the current biodegradable alternatives in the marketplace.
The initial market opportunity for this kind of food wrappers appears to be in single-serve packages, things like cheese slices, meats and other smaller snacks. This solution would allow to reduce immensely the plastic waste deriving from these products, which have a very short life.
The only serious problem connected to this novel product is its economic feasibility. It is not clear whether casein has the potential to become convenient and cost competitive on an industrial scale. The last problem, of course, will be to convince consumers not to leave anything, not even a piece of food wrap, in their plate.
Source: Circulate News