By Richard Romano on January 15th, 2013
What is one food way of solving the problem of discarded fast food wrappers and other packaging materials? Why yes: make them edible. Via Two Sides UK, this is exactly what Bob’s, a fast food chain in Brazil has done. (Wait: there is a fast food chain in Brazil called “Bob’s”?)
Essentially, burgers are wrapped in a rice-based paper and diners can simply chomp right through it. (You can add whatever snarky jokes you want to make about he palatability of fast food here.) No indication of whether the wrappers enhanced the taste of the burgers, but the company said that there were no wrappers left in the restaurant afterward. Quod erat demonstrandum?
It’s an interesting and elegant solution to fast food waste, but one does have concerns about how sanitary it is. After all, we put food in packaging to keep it safe from dirt, bacteria, and other environmental contaminants. If the packaging then is edible—and is no longer a barrier to these things—one questions why there is the need for packaging at all.
In other packaging news, via Triple Pundit, the Notbox Solution is coming to North America. The raison d’être of the NotBox is to eliminate cardboard waste by developing a sturdy package that can be reused a number of times, rather than so-called “single-use” cardboard boxes. Actually, to be honest, I dispute the notion that cardboard boxes are “single-use” per se; I have no problem reusing them, and they seem rather robust to me. I don’t know what the maximum number of “ships” a standard cardboard box is capable of (you can probably extrapolate from the Mullen Test number printed on the bottoms of most boxes, I would guess), but the claims for the Notbox are in excess of 20 ships.
“The final product looks and acts like Styrofoam,” wrote [Oliver Campbell, Dell’s director of procurement for packaging and packaging engineering], “only this is organic, biodegradable and can be used as compost or mulch, which makes for easier and more environmentally-friendly disposal. In addition, this material is also surprisingly durable and tough.”
And this differs from cardboard…how? I guess it depends what you are shipping:
Campbell added that Dell’s packaging strategy has cut costs by more than $18 million and eliminated 20 million pounds of packaging between 2008 and 2012. “With the rapid development of technology and alternative packaging solutions being studied constantly, these benefits have the potential to be far greater in the future for anyone who chooses to adopt a sustainable approach to packaging.”
Notboxes, which include coolboxes for home use as well as by specific industries such as the healthcare sector, fold flat for easy storage and backhaul, come in many sizes and colors and are easily branded.
“We chose the Notbox because it’s reusable, lightweight, durable and good value for money,” said a spokesperson for Ten Group, a UK-based concierge service. “Our customers can use their box for picnics and storage, and it won’t add to the heaps of landfill already out there.”
Well, until its lifespan is up. The trick will be getting the shippees to reuse the boxes.