French company Lactips has developed an edible plastic made from the milk protein, casein, that is soluble in both hot and cold water.
The resulting bioplastic is printable and has a functional air barrier to keep products fresh and shelf-stable, it says.
Co-founder and scientific director Frédéric Prochazka said: “Environmental issues and sustainable growth are becoming more important in strategic decision-making processes. Our technology enables us to develop new applications for the food and beverage industry, including edible packaging for milk-based products."
“Now we want to provide our industrial clients with disruptive innovations to help them enter new markets. We believe our product is a cleaner alternative to oil-based products, which is more efficient and sustainable for consumers and the environment.”
The bioplastic film biodegrades in 18 days and can be home composted.
Lactips, which received €1.5 million in funding from the EU through the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, uses non-edible casein for the non-food applications, such as soluble dishwasher detergent tabs, and biodegradable additives.
It also has an imaginative vision of how its edible packaging could one day change the consumers’ everyday sensory experience: “You will be like the characters of Charlie & the chocolate factory, living in a world where all your environment is edible,” says its website.