Author: Christopher Beanland

Posted on: The Guardian |April 9th, 2018

Who hasn’t occasionally considered whether you could just chomp on your water bottle once you have finished drinking from it? That is a reality with Ooho water pouches – from Skipping Rocks Lab, a UK-based “sustainable packaging” startup – made from seaweed for an esoteric post-beverage snack.

Of course, eating them is not really the point – the reason they received the thumbs up from French president Emmanuel Macron in December is that they offer a glimpse of a plastic-free future. With the tide turning against plastics and everyone from David Attenborough to the Queen seeking bans, these containers could help save the oceans. Ooho pouches encase a serving of water in a thin membrane made from brown algae. They were developed in London by Pierre-Yves Paslier and Rodrigo García González, who claim seaweed is safe to eat and regrows quickly, too.

“Ooho’s edible capsule and [another UK-made product] Herald’s edible straw have both been pitched as potential alternatives to plastic,” says Philip Chadwick, editor of Packaging News. “The ongoing plastics debate could mean that more edible packs will be developed.”

Plastic, it seems, could soon be past it. An all-out assault on human-made materials is under way. Alongside the UK government’s recently announced plan for a deposit scheme for bottles in the lead-up to eradicating disposable plastics by 2042, the Co-op and Starbucks are using recycled plastics in their bottles, while Selfridges will no longer sell drinks in plastic bottles. The National Trust is replacing plastic plant pots and trays.

Indonesia’s Evoware launched seaweed packaging in September that can wrap a burger or noodles. In New York, Loliware has come up with a cup you can eat, made from agar seaweed, and is working on an edible seaweed straw. Herald’s edible straw is made in Barking. It is a sweet proposition, made from sugar, corn starch and jelly, and lasts 40 minutes inside a mojito before it starts to fall apart. Meanwhile, in Hyderabad, Narayana Peesapaty designed an edible spoon made of millet flour that becomes a proxy dessert after dusting off a bowl of dahl. In Poland, there are Biotrem’s wheatbran plates you can scoff. Soon perhaps everything on the table could be eaten (maybe even the table, too). The questions is: will we want to?

“How comfortable will consumers be with eating packaging?” asks Chadwick. “Will it taste good? Would anyone want to eat packaging that has been handled by other shoppers?”

It is certainly a bold leap on from the last crop of hi-tech food fads – from Quorn and bleeding fake-meat burgers to insects and molecular gastronomy.

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