It’s not all green wash… is it?
It is not easy to be green working in engineering companies but we all try. Recently I came across a thought-provoking post on LinkedIn showing an image of a paper bottle. What a great idea, less plastic! But, on closer inspection, the second image showed that there was a plastic bottle inside the paper one. And I commented that there might well be a lot of disingenuous green washing about as we battle to stop the planet drowning in single use plastic.
There are, however, green food packaging engineering companies and institutions who really are working towards a greener planet, like researchers in Singapore and the US. They have developed a new, seemingly very green, packaging film with added benefits.
The team, from Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Boston), claim that the film material is fully biodegradable and sustainable.
Food Wrap or Vinaigrette?
The new material is made from a corn protein starch, and natural biopolymers and acetic acid (vinegar). Natural microbial compounds like herb oil and citric acid (lemon juice) infuse the biopolymers, and, in laymen’s terms, the whole lot is mixed together very quickly! I hope my oversimplification of this does not dismay the very talented teams in The USA and Singapore! You can read the unabridged here!
It strikes me that these ingredients are all in our kitchen cupboards and would actually make a nice vinaigrette. Much better to make food wrap from food than from a distillate of crude oil, surely?
The Packaging Even Bites Back!
Furthermore, and very excitingly, conditions that would usually make food spoil, such as increased humidity and harmful bacteria, encourage the fibres in the new packaging film to release the natural antimicrobial compounds which then kill harmful bacteria like E.Coli. This can actually extend the shelf life of wrapped food. Strawberries wrapped in the new material, stayed fresh for nearly twice as long as those wrapped in a common plastic wrap.
I have since read that this packaging, whilst being biodegradable and sustainable is not recyclable. If it is biodegradable and sustainable, does it need to be recyclable? Any thoughts?