Saturday, August 11, 2012

Earth-Friendly Food and Drink Wrap

Plastics packaging is a nightmare for the environment. Taking hundreds of years — if at all — to degrade, plastic wrappers and plastic-lined juice boxes clog landfill sites, choke wildlife and eventually leach dangerous chemicals into groundwater. Cities including San Francisco, Toronto and Mexico City have gone so far as to ban plastic bags, and savvy consumers are seeking better alternatives.

Tired of nagging her kids to bring home their used food packaging and cans for recycling, Israeli computer-engineer-turned-entrepreneur Daphna Nissenbaum hired expert consultants in biopolymers to search the world for a fully compostable packaging material. They found nothing to fit the bill.

Because Nissenbaum couldn’t find this green wonder material on the shelf of any chemist’s lab she approached, she started a green packaging company, Tipa. The idea was to create a package from which you can eat or drink and then throw it into the organic waste stream to fully decompose –– to go back to nature in the compost bin.

The material had to be made to decompose under certain conditions — with the right heat and bacteria, for instance — and not in the kitchen cupboard. The packaging would have to have a nice touch, yet be flexible enough not to break. It couldn’t be noisy. It would have to be transparent, yet create a barrier against oxygen and water. Plus it would need to be sealed well and it would need to be able to hold food with a six-month shelf life, at least.

There are biodegradable films out there, but they cannot be used for food packaging. Israeli and US experts at Tipa created a patentable solution based on new and different green materials that can be used for all kinds of food packaging.

To ensure that no new equipment would be required for adopting Tipa’s packaging, the new solution was continuously tested on existing machinery in working factories.

Tipa captured a first place at Israel’s Cleantech 2012 out of 50 promising companies and also won a prize at Anuga Foodtec, a leading food industry packaging conference in Germany.

With the marketing environment ripe for Tipa’s packaging solution, new material based on plant and plant derivatives will go on sale shortly.

Source: Israel21c

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