Every day, Americans throw away some 200,000 pounds of packaging—only about half of which is recycled. But Harvard bioengineer David Edwards believes he has found a way to reduce that waste: He wants us to eat it.
Edwards has invented a two-layered, edible membrane that he calls the WikiCell. It can be fashioned into attractive packaging that is capable of keeping food such as yogurt, cheese and juice fresh for up to six months.
WikiCells Ice Cream and More
The layers function as a wrapper and box. A soft inner skin is made from tiny particles of food, mixed with either algae extract or chitosan (a biochemical polymer), and held together with calcium or magnesium ions. For extra protection, a firm outer skin made from a sugar derivative can be added, and then eaten or peeled off. (It’s biodegradable.) The concept allows for imaginative gastronomy—adding crunchy nuts or grains to the exterior or pairing it with something complementary, such as a coconut skin with mango or strawberry ice cream (left).
Where to Find WikiCells
WikiCell-wrapped foods are already being served at Le Laboratoire, an art and science center founded by Edwards in Paris, but WikiCell ice cream and frozen yogurt will make their debut at some U.S. grocery stores later this month.