Researchers from Rutgers and Harvard University have developed a biodegradable spray-on food wrapper. The Scientists believe this wrapper can prolong the shelf-life of food, reduce food and plastic waste and increase food safety.
“Food waste and food safety are among the major concerns in our society, especially in the period of COVID-19,” Huibin Chang, a research associate in bioengineering at Harvard University who was involved in the development of the wrapper, told Food Tank. Chang explains that most food wrappers today are non-biodegradable, leading to environmental pollution.
The spray-on wrapper’s main ingredient is an edible fiber known as pullulan, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) generally recognizes as safe. The mixture of the biodegradable polymer and non-toxic solvents can be rinsed off with water.
“The goal of [the spray-on wrapper] project is to improve the shelf-life of foods with less amount [of] antimicrobial coatings using green processes,” Chang told Food Tank.
However, some scientists are doubtful about this development. They argue that further research into how these materials breakdown and their environmental impact is required. More research is needed to determine whether the rinsing method of disposal of the spray-on wrapper causes the initial non-toxic materials to break down in possibly harmful ways.
The spray-on wrapper is still in its early stages of development, but the Rutgers team of scientists plan to scale up the process to ensure the wrapper is market competitive and meets current industry equipment standards.
Ritva Krist, Marketing Manager at German startup, traceless, which creates packaging alternatives to plastics, told Food Tank that “the spray-on wrapper is a very promising invention with great potential to create an impact.”