OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Protein Packaging

The Earth can finally taste good packaging ..

Photo of Farida
2 0

Written by

Plastic packages have been increasing dramatically everywhere around us and day by day the human demand of plastic packaging is leaving footprints on the earth.

The environment has been and will continue to be threatened by this significant development of non-biodegradable plastics, unless action is taken. Thus, thinking about a win-win situation between humans and the environment, materials used for plastic packages have been researched and it has been found that U.S. Department of Agriculture are developing an environmentally friendly film made of the milk protein casein. 

Source: American Chemical Society

Unlike any petroleum based packaging , this protein based package can be both edible and bio-degradable. To ensure the technology is human centered and would be demanded by the society, this technology does not look any different than other plastic wrap and therefore guarantees practicality. Moreover, the protein-based films are powerful oxygen blockers that help prevent food spoilage, hence keeping the food fresher than other current packages.

There are currently some available edible packaging on the market but they are made of starch ; nevertheless it is more porous and allows oxygen to enter through its micro-holes.

This solution is found to be completely feasible and practical to implement given that it is derived from milk and is expected to be ready on shelves in less than 2 years. 

One of the potential applications could be as a dissolving packet of dried coffee or soup. Instead of tearing the top off and pouring it out, you just drop the whole thing in hot water, and it dissolves, adding protein to boot. Another is as single-serve food wrappers  that use large amounts of plastic for such products. Indeed, the applications of this casein packaging is literally endless.

Idea Title

Plastasty

Where are you / your team located?

I'm located in Cairo, Egypt- one of the largest contributors to non-recycled waste.

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

This idea redesigns plastic sachets and single use plastic by simply changing the material itself. Casein is the name for a family of related phosphoproteins. These proteins are commonly found in mammalian milk, making up 80% of the proteins in cow's milk. These casein-based films are up to 500 times better than plastics at keeping oxygen away from food and, because they are derived from milk, are biodegradable, sustainable and edible.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

The implementation of using Casein in plastic packaging can be used for use case 1 - for single use packages. The package is still used once but now it can degrade in no time.

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

This idea can be implemented any where in the world considering the availability of milk. I am looking forward to starting the application in Egypt to eliminate plastic waste; however, this idea can be applied in multiple regional settings.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

By introducing additives to improve the package, it now looks similar to store-bought plastic wrap, but it is less stretchy and is better at blocking oxygen. Obstacles Foreseen include effects of humidity and dirt. Because the casein film dissolves in water, one of the main drawbacks to single-serve pouches is that they would need larger non-dis-solvable containers, probably paper. So further research should be done to either add paper or cardboard.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

By the time I finish the New Plastic Economy Accelerator program , I would be done with collecting all suitable data in terms of materials needed, machines and the technology required to manufacture the plastasty packaging. This project, if implemented, would become a worldwide package for every single-use product.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

This idea emerged on material research whilst studying a project on recycling products.

Tell us about your work experience

I am currently studying Mechanical Engineering and Physics. I am interested in design especially when it is human centered. I was inspired by a creative thinking course I have attended at University.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

I am an individual and observer working independently.

2 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Farida,

The Ideas Phase of the challenge closes TONIGHT at 11:30 p.m. PT. Your post is currently unpublished, in draft mode. In order to be eligible for evaluation, your post must be published on the platform.

We'd love to have it be included in the challenge. You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your post by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. Thanks!

View all comments