When it comes to needless waste, nothing beats food packaging. In the U.S., roughly two-thirds of total packaging waste comes from the cardboard and plastic found in food packages. However, one Massachusetts startup is trying to change that, albeit in a rather roundabout way.
WikiFoods is the brainchild of professor David Edwards, designer Francois Azambourg, and biologist Don Ingber, and explicitly hopes to "reinvent packaging."
The Cambridge-based company has developed a form of edible food packaging called Wikipearls that replicate the skin found on fruits and vegetables.
In many ways Wikipearls strongly resemble the outer layer of mochi ice cream. But unlike that delicious treat, the membrane developed by Wikifoods is impermeable and washable.
The startup's latest initiative is a joint collaboration with Stonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt producer based in New Hampshire. The two companies have created frozen yogurt pearls that will soon be available in 35 Whole Foods locations throughout northeast U.S.
Although WikiFoods would prefer the yogurt pearls be sold individually in a manner similar to fruit and vegetables, consumer addiction to prepackaged food is a tough habit to break. So, for the foreseeable future the frozen yogurt will be sold in a familiar biodegradable package.
We are interested to see how the yogurt pearls fair, and anything that sets out to eliminate or at least lessen the impact of wasteful packaging is good in our books. However, considering our obsession with cleanliness and sanitation—particularly when it comes to what we eat—the WikiPearls may remain a tough sell.