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Case Studies and Resources

Using Food Waste to Combat Food Waste

Food waste used to protect produceSounds like a pretty novel concept, but it’s more likely than you know.  Researchers have been working on ways to reduce and eliminate food waste for years.  It seems like they are really onto something.

We all know that when you go to the grocery store to purchase fruits and vegetables, it’s almost always covered with a waxy film that you can’t get rid of, no matter how much you wash them.  Apeel Sciences has been working on a solution. 

Much of the fruit and vegetables grown never find their way to our grocery stores, let alone our plates due to damage and spoilage.  Apeel has taken plant matter, like grape skins and other vegetable matter that is normally considered trash, and turned it into a thin barrier that can help extend the life of things like strawberries, bananas, and even green beans.  It is tasteless, odorless, and completely invisible.  While this product isn’t yet available on the market, the company is in negotiations with several produce companies.

Shrimp Shell Food Waste turned into bioplasticThis one in particular caught my interest, shrimp shells used to create packaging that can double shelf life.  How would you like your bread wrapped in shrimp shells?  It is actually a pretty ingenious idea.

With more and more consumers working towards a zero waste lifestyle, companies are finding themselves in a bind over their packaging.  Most bread is packaged in plastic, most of our produce is wrapped in plastic.  So what if we had a plastic that was made from sustainable resources, was biodegradable, and all natural?

Researchers have found that by combining chitosan, created from crustacean shells, with grapefruit seed extract can produce a bio plastic that is biodegradable, antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial.  Basically this film keeps fungi and bacteria from growing, and it also blocks out ultraviolet light, which is another cause of food starting to go bad.  All of these things combined, practically doubles the shelf life.  This is another product, which unfortunately, is not yet available to the market.

The bioplastic created with chitosan can actually degrade completely in a couple of weeks.  The “shrilk”, a product made by combining the chitosan with silk is so nutrient dense that the broken down material can actually germinate and grow seeds.

Here is a very interesting video of some scientist that are using fungi and landfill waste to create plastics, furniture, and various other objects, including packaging.

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Topics: sustainability food waste food waste reduction organic waste food service Food packaging