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Bring edible water/drinks to the Market

forget the traditional plastic bottles, water or most of the consumable drinks can now be stored without a physical container

Photo of Afzal vohra
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Water is a basic necessity, we require a daily intake of 3-5 liters. Almost in every country water is sold in plastic bottles, which are terrible for the environment. yet, only few of us re-use the same bottle for days. what if we do not need to sell water in plastic containers ? instead it can be sold in an edible gel type globe. 

I came across this innovation a few months back when i was randomly watching some tech videos. The pioneer of this idea are a group of engineers from Skipping Rocks Lab. Water is stored in the globe and the outer shell of the sphere/globe is made from an algae which is edible and hence biodegradable. The water can be consumed either by tearing a hole in the sachet or eating the sachet itself.

The basic chemistry of the package:

The main ingredients of this membrane are 1. Sodium Alginate, usually derived from seaweed and 2. calcium chloride. There are several DIY videos on YouTube through which you can create these spheres yourself. however,  the team from Skipping Rocks Lab uses a tweaked version of these technology to create tougher larger sphere.


How does this research relate to our Use Cases?

The solution is related to Case 3, since it is a innovative way to contain water. the product is biodegradable and edible. it has the potential to minimize plastic usage through water bottles to a large extent.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Although many videos online can help you create this product, however isn't it more easier to buy a permanent bottle, fill it and always carry it? But, only a few people do it and again if you forget your bottles you buy a new one, contributing to plastic pollution. So, commercializing this technology and selling it in the market (with a social message) is the right step to minimize plastic.

Tell us about yourself

I have a background in engineering, my bachelor's degree is chemical engineering and at present i am pursuing an MBA in Sydney. Always keen to learn about topics related to 'how engineering and technology can solve future problems'.

9 comments

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Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Afzal vohra !

It is great to have you in the challenge. I hope you are also around for the ideas phase in just over one week.

Have you seen the post Gotta Eat Them All by Paricha Duangtaweesub ? It might give you a few more ideas on edible packaging that could inspire some great designs for the ideas phase.

Photo of Afzal vohra

Hi kate yes i did have a look and i have also a new idea about changing the process in which we consume water in plastic bottles from retail shops.

Photo of KIN LING

hi, it is really great that your innovation applies to the daily life products, however, how can the sphere be stored and applied in the mass production? Since the sphere is not easy to deliver and display on the shelf, is there any other options for the shape of the idea?

Photo of Afzal vohra

Hi Kin, great that you liked this idea. well as far as i have researched the developing company actually plans to provide another film on top of this spheres, which can be removed and would also be biodegradable. I also had these concerns, that who would rather pick it up if its outer surface is dirty! regarding the mass production and distribution it may actually be a problem because the shelf life is of few days. however, the production process is really simpler and you can think of this being transformed as a bread which also has a shelf life of few days. so maybe set up local production or through a government initiative across different areas in a city and distribute it.

Photo of KIN LING

Yea, agree. Because of the short shelf-life of this product, I think it is only suitable for the short shelf-life drink only such as fresh juice, or coffee, yogurt, milk, etc. But now, most of these drinks are packed in paper already, is the function of this spheres duplicating with paper box?

Photo of Alexa Haden

I love this idea for juice, yoghurt, milk, water etc. There are so many great applications. You could just rise it off under the tap like you do with an apple before you eat it?

Photo of Afzal vohra

yea it can work for many liquids. if you see the video at one point they show an outer layer being peeled off and then u have the sphere which u eat or pierce and drink. i hope it gets accepted among people and there can be more to it if it develops into a scale-able technology.

Photo of Christel Tardif

Hi Afzal vohra How will these bubbles be brought to the customer without plastic ending in the trash?
I find this example is great but if you decide to distribute it in groceries or supermarkets or whatever the place is you will need to wrap them up other wise there will be hygienic issues I believe?
But the general idea could be inspiring for other products individually wrapped.

Photo of Afzal vohra

Hi Chirstel, yes i totally agree that this product might need a wrapping itself. i believe the engineers from skipping rocks lab are planning to provide an external film on top of these spheres which can be removed. however, may be it can also be packed in paper boxes like biscuits. I think this is really good start to aiming for reduction in plastic waste and i hope this research develops into a commercial product. the only issue would be people's acceptance of this and for that we need to educate more and more masses about the hazardous effect plastics create for our environment.