How to turn your candy wrapper to dirt in 180 days
Startup has a clear solution to waste with new 100% biodegradable packaging.
That photo you just posted to Instagram, the quote you earlier placed on Facebook, even the poem you privately composed to Google Drive. These are all examples of moments we like to believe we're saving and preserving for years, decades, or even centuries to come. The real truth? The future belongs to the granola bar wrapper you just tossed in the garbage.
On a planet that generates more than 3.5 million tons of trash per day, the enduring legacy of our daily waste is an expensive and troublesome problem. While the rigid plastic milk jug you own is easily recyclable, flexible plastic packaging is instead relegated to the landfill. The science behind this fact is fairly easy to explain: A milk jug is made of a single polymer while a granola wrapper, which has different requirements for maintaining freshness, is generally composed of several. The recycling industry has the technology to reuse one, but not the other.
But what if instead of sitting in a landfill for centuries, the plastic wrapper you threw away turned to dirt in only 180 days? That's the goal of TIPA Sustainable Packaging, an Israeli startup that has created a breakthrough flexible packaging that not only mimics the desired properties of conventional packaging, but is also 100% biodegradable.
TIPA's range of compostable packaging is engineered to be 100% biodegradable while also possessing similar mechanical and shelf-life properties as ordinary plastic. (Photo: TIPA)
The company was founded by Daphna Nissenbaum, who got the idea after having a conversation with her son about wasteful packaging. “I think that if we really want to take care of the environment ... it should be holistic to our lifestyle,” Nissenbaum said.
Dr. Gail Barnes is a technical expert on sustainability, processing, and packaging technologies who lives in Chicago. She told From The Grapevine that TIPA's game-changing products come at a time when major municipalities like New York, San Francisco and Seattle are expanding composting efforts to include flexible packaging.
"The packaging does, however, have to be compostable, and this, in my opinion, is what makes TIPA's innovation particularly exciting," she added. "Compostable packaging allows one to reconfigure the value chain for disposing of flexible packaging in an environmentally sound way as landfill is no longer the only solution."
While biodegradable plastics from companies like Coca-Cola, Heinz, and Stonyfield are already in circulation, says Julia Schifter, TIPA's business development manager, they're all for rigid packaging. "TIPA's technology focuses on flexible packaging where compostable solutions rarely exist today," she added.
TIPA's initial products will focus on flexible packaging for dry goods, with options for liquids and other foodstuffs to follow. (Photo: TIPA)
TIPA's range of flexible packaging is currently commercially available, with plans to roll out consumer options in supermarkets across Europe and the U.S. later this year. Like other emerging technologies, the biggest hurdle to mass adoption is price, as compostable products will initially cost more than conventional packaging.
"Sustainable packaging is still expected to provide the same quality and properties as conventional, less sustainable solutions and at a competitive price point," Schifter told From the Grapevine. "As technology improves and economies of scale grow, sustainable packaging may indeed provide a robust and viable alternative to existing solutions."
That's good news not only for the planet – but also the legacy we'll leave behind.
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Related Topics: Environment