Innovations in Food Packaging Preliminary Prize Criteria

nmgrahamnmgraham Posts: 66 XPRIZE
Packaging, and food packaging, specifically, is a key factor in driving plastic pollution, and one of the greatest areas of concern is the increasing rise in single-use plastics - 50% of plastic becomes trash in less than a year. Exploring the landscape of single-use plastic packaging, compostable plastic film rose as an area of interest.

Flexible plastic film (i.e., cling wrap) has transformed food security prospects, but as a food wrapper, it is among the most common ocean pollutants, it is difficult to recycle and clogs recycling machines, and it’s prone to leakage from waste management systems. At the same time, innovations for this product seem to offer opportunities to take over a significant portion of the plastic market: flexible plastic film, due to its versatility, can serve multiple industries and is a product from which other applications can be produced, such as bags and labels. It is estimated to represent about 20% of the plastic market value.

Here are some of the initial criteria we are looking into.

A sustainable alternative to a flexible plastic film that is:
  • Comparable to plastic functionality (transparent, durable, and versatile material that is water and air resistant to keep produce safe and fresh)
  • Food, environment, and human safe
  • Biodegradable in a marine environment, anaerobic environments and home compost
  • Circular/Regenerative
  • Cost-competitive with existing thin-film plastic production
  • Compatible with most existing packaging machines
  • Scalable (i.e., sustainable feedstock, production pace)

We would love to hear your thoughts about the direction and the areas for investigation. Are you familiar with innovations and initiatives in this space? Are there specific challenges for innovators in this space?

Comments

  • NickAzerNickAzer Portland, OR, USAPosts: 207 admin
    Here are some of our preliminary criteria for innovations in food packaging, @eakinyi @LHanson @Joanne @Utobou @Thanku @AustinClowes @iduaolunwa @kjbradford @marsxr @bngejane and @renskelynde @akb and @marsxr! If you have thoughts on these criteria, or links, examples, experiences, and ideas around this space in general, feel free to share them here in the comments! And let us know if you have any questions. Thank you for your input so far!
  • JoanneJoanne Founder Posts: 17 ✭✭
    Hemp cellulose cellophane. Cellophane is 100% biodegradable and can be composted in the compost bin (scrunch it up instead of covering your compost with a flat layer). Hemp can be grown to maturation in 90 days and many varieties of hemp contain around 70% cellulose. Other sources of common cellulose include wood (roughly half the amount of cellulose as hemp) and flax (which has a similar amount). These facts make a strong case to consider hemp and other plants for new biocomposite plastics.
  • nmgrahamnmgraham Posts: 66 XPRIZE
    @Joanne , that's definitely an interesting stat on hemp cellulose. Curious! In these contexts is hemp grown solely for cellulose or is the cellulose extraction a byproduct of another purpose? Why do you think production moved away from cellophane instead of switching feedstock sources away from trees/wood?
  • bngejanebngejane bk ngejane Posts: 76 ✭✭
    Bio-based products are made of feedstock derived from living organisms, in whole or in a significant part. Such products include conventional materials like wood and pulp, and new products engineered to replace unsustainable resources.

    Physical and chemical processes can split biomass into compounds like starch, cellulose, protein, and lignin, which can be transformed into new materials. Seaweed can be processed into edible cutlery and food packaging by companies like Evoware (Indonesia) and Skipping Rocks Lab (UK). The latter created Ooho, an edible sachet replacing plastic packaging for outdoor consumption of beverages and condiments. Using the company’s machine, retailers and caterers can produce 100 Oohos in minutes.
  • CarolineCaroline Los Angeles, CaliforniaPosts: 46 XPRIZE
    Thanks for pointing us in the direction of some innovators in this sector, @bngejane. In this case where feedstock is sourced from living organisms, how much consideration is given to the long term impacts and sustainability of these source materials? Also, thinking of the Ooho example you mentioned, do you know how comparable 'scaleability' of these alternative, is to conventional plastics?
  • akbakb Posts: 188 ✭✭✭
    That sounds like a good list of requirements @NickAzer
    I'm optimistic that this worthy challenge is achievable. There are a range of potential candidates that involve biodegradable (organic) materials; and there's this interesting idea: transparent wood, which when made as thin as paper might fit the bill. The idea of transparent wood has already been demonstrated.
  • ricardoyudiricardoyudi Mr Posts: 3
    Hi all.
    Following the thread.
    :)
  • NickAzerNickAzer Portland, OR, USAPosts: 207 admin
    edited July 27
    Thank you @akb and @ricardoyudi!

    @NoraEatREAL @neillk @kcamphuis, curious if you might have any input here?

    Are there any of the criteria here that jump out at everyone - and is there anything that should be added (or expanded upon)?
  • NoraEatREALNoraEatREAL CEO Posts: 11
    edited July 27
    @NickAzer ideas to elevate the prize....other criteria to consider 1. Leadership through JEDI (does the prize team have 22nd century - Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion- integrated into its strategy and structure? Examine, Boards/Leadership/Team/Goals) 2. "Proven" safer -Food, Environment Proven Holistically Safe without unintended consequences (ability to prove ie robust testing- plastic wrap has ABC which do XYZ whereas the new technology leverages 1. 2. 3. and has been tested in _ _ _ ways). Is it proven to be better and have they examined unintended consequences of the product (if it's better than plastic but is made from a source that uses chemicals or is largely produced via monocropping that depletes our bee or ... population, it's not a planet solution... e.g., sugarcane as something to avoid comes to mind). 3. Biomimicry - how does it learn from nature to help preserve nature
  • nmgrahamnmgraham Posts: 66 XPRIZE
    @NoraEatREAL these are all great points to consider and actually align perfectly with the values system we are currently considering as a foundation for some of this prize design. Tagging my teammates @Caroline and @Eti in case they have any thought or questions for you. As for me, Can you talk a little more about this JEDI concept?
  • jcoonrodjcoonrod Executive Vice President Posts: 2
    I think the best packaging is no packaging at all. We used to ship from farms in permanent wooden containers and then people would put vegetables in their own shopping bags. What was wrong with that? Meet and fish were wrapped in newspapers. I see no reason not to return to that. It would also tend to solve the "ugly" food problem.
  • bngejanebngejane bk ngejane Posts: 76 ✭✭
    edited July 30
  • EtiEti Posts: 82 XPRIZE
    jcoonrod wrote: »
    I think the best packaging is no packaging at all. We used to ship from farms in permanent wooden containers and then people would put vegetables in their own shopping bags. What was wrong with that? Meet and fish were wrapped in newspapers. I see no reason not to return to that. It would also tend to solve the "ugly" food problem.

    Thank you @jcoonrod for your insight. I'm curious if, in your opinion, there's a single-use plastic packaging that is not likely to go away, and thus we are ought to find sustainable (and potentially regenerative) alternative? Just as an example, I'd like to share a snapshot of one of the reasons that led us to consider a focus on plastic film (as food wrap): it is a leading marine plastic pollutant, but plays an important role with regards to fresh produce - minimizing food loss and consumers greatly value the transparency it offers.

    Excited to hear your thoughts on the subject, thank you in advance!
  • EtiEti Posts: 82 XPRIZE
    edited July 31
    @NickAzer ideas to elevate the prize....other criteria to consider 1. Leadership through JEDI (does the prize team have 22nd century - Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion- integrated into its strategy and structure? Examine, Boards/Leadership/Team/Goals) 2. "Proven" safer -Food, Environment Proven Holistically Safe without unintended consequences (ability to prove ie robust testing- plastic wrap has ABC which do XYZ whereas the new technology leverages 1. 2. 3. and has been tested in _ _ _ ways). Is it proven to be better and have they examined unintended consequences of the product (if it's better than plastic but is made from a source that uses chemicals or is largely produced via monocropping that depletes our bee or ... population, it's not a planet solution... e.g., sugarcane as something to avoid comes to mind). 3. Biomimicry - how does it learn from nature to help preserve nature

    @NoraEatREAL echoing my colleague @nmgraham - Thank you for all the valuable insights! These are all key to consider, and we will begin unpacking these. With regards to your 2nd point "proven safer," this is an area of great importance, especially considering the unraveling health consequences of the chemical substances and physical properties associated with plastic (i.e., leaching and microplastics). Are you familiar with any standards in this space (around ensuring that materials are food/human/environment safe)? Or perhaps any suggestions around exploring definitions for such concepts?
  • EtiEti Posts: 82 XPRIZE
    edited July 31
    @bngejane Thank you for sharing these links
  • NoraEatREALNoraEatREAL CEO Posts: 11
    edited August 1
    @Eti A few Ideas/places to get ideas on standards/experts re safe plastic alternatives:
    This looks worth looking into exploring them as a stakeholder: https://www.madesafe.org/science/process/
    https://www.madesafe.org/work-with-us/programs-and-pricing/

    European standards are known to be significantly higher so this could also be a reference or testing avenue: https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/news/new-test-methods-plastic-and-rubber-product-safety

    The EWG has an interesting report on BPA gone wrong which highlights various standards and shares good hindsight plus their network of experts could be engaged:
    https://www.ewg.org/research/timeline-bpa-invention-phase-out
  • NoraEatREALNoraEatREAL CEO Posts: 11
    edited August 2
    Ooo Linseed -Flax- for the win? Perhaps worth having A Good Company out of Sweden work on a prototype? I particularly love that their plastic alternative is made from a (beautiful) plant and it’s “backyard” compostable. Flax seeds, flax clothing, flax phone covers, flax wrap? https://agood.com/products/a-good-mobile-case-iphonex-iphonexs

    Ohh! Interesting to look at phone cases categories for transferable technology - phone packaging to food packaging. Pela (which I’ve tried & like) has a new clear phone cover that’s a compostable blend of “ flax shive and a plant based biopolymer.” https://pelacase.com/products/clear-black-eco-friendly-iphone-11-case
    What’s extra cool about this Canadian Company is their deep commitment to creating a waste free future including being “Climate Neutral Certified” (plus BCorp plus 1% for the planet). https://pelacase.com/products/clear-black-eco-friendly-iphone-11-case
  • NoraEatREALNoraEatREAL CEO Posts: 11
    https://b0304edd-d3cf-434f-9f73-596dc8450080.filesusr.com/ugd/dcb253_151dcf652c6f47aca2d4a571cbd79b30.pdf

    This report by Safer Made/sponsored by the Forsythia Foundation (both important stakeholders) is a must-read on better food packaging and this prize. It is very clear and it names businesses that are making strides (sometimes in other categories w transferable tech e.g., pg 30 . Melodea which has a compostable oxygen barrier films based onnano crystalline cellulose or pg 31/34 for a long list or Cambridge crops edible bioplastic coating pg 43) and could participate. 

    Are you already in touch? 
  • nmgrahamnmgraham Posts: 66 XPRIZE
    https://b0304edd-d3cf-434f-9f73-596dc8450080.filesusr.com/ugd/dcb253_151dcf652c6f47aca2d4a571cbd79b30.pdf

    This report by Safer Made/sponsored by the Forsythia Foundation (both important stakeholders) is a must-read on better food packaging and this prize. It is very clear and it names businesses that are making strides (sometimes in other categories w transferable tech e.g., pg 30 . Melodea which has a compostable oxygen barrier films based onnano crystalline cellulose or pg 31/34 for a long list or Cambridge crops edible bioplastic coating pg 43) and could participate. 

    Are you already in touch? 

    @NoraEatREAL , this is excellent! Thanks for this resource. Not in touch yet, but would be happy to get a contact if you have one. Feel free to email me [email protected] if you have someone in mind. Otherwise, tagging my teammates @Eti and @Caroline in case they have any specific questions regarding this.
  • CarolineCaroline Los Angeles, CaliforniaPosts: 46 XPRIZE
    Can't thank you all enough for engaging with us in this exciting prize design and recommending research and innovations for us to look into. This is the first version of our prize criteria and all of your feedback helps us get to version 2 which we hope to share with you all in the next couple of weeks. Until then, we've expanded our inquiry into two of the topics some of you raised in this thread: the standards and regulations of plastic (and alternatives) packaging as well as the value framework that is guiding us along the design towards an effective and realistic transition toward a circular food economy.
    To help us think about a holistic, integrated circular food economy that is equally realistic and beneficial to our environment, societies and the economy, visit this new thread: https://community.xprize.org/discussion/853/defining-and-refining-a-circular-food-economy#latest

    Specifically on plastics/plastic alternatives, we've began diving deeper into the standards that we need to consider for testing and judging here: https://community.xprize.org/discussion/854/understanding-testing-standards-for-materials#latest

    Encourage all of you to share your insights on these two threads! @Joanne @bngejane @akb @NoraEatREAL @jcoonrod @ricardoyudi
  • bngejanebngejane bk ngejane Posts: 76 ✭✭
    edited August 6
    @Eti A few Ideas/places to get ideas on standards/experts re safe plastic alternatives:
    This looks worth looking into exploring them as a stakeholder: https://www.madesafe.org/science/process/
    https://www.madesafe.org/work-with-us/programs-and-pricing/

    European standards are known to be significantly higher so this could also be a reference or testing avenue: https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/news/new-test-methods-plastic-and-rubber-product-safety

    The EWG has an interesting report on BPA gone wrong which highlights various standards and shares good hindsight plus their network of experts could be engaged:
    https://www.ewg.org/research/timeline-bpa-invention-phase-out

    Standing ovation @NoraEatREAL "super stellar".
    @NickAzer we need like a "quasar" imoji..... B)
  • ymedanymedan Founder and CTO Posts: 126 ✭✭✭
    I am late to this discusion and feel that I need to add a controversial viewpoint. Why is the prize limited to Biodegradable solutions and not to innovative Reusable and/or Recycleable packaging as well? The latter may present not only economical and environmental benefits but also social ones.
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