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Wrapped In Nature: New Biodegradable Food Packages

By Alona Volinsky, NoCamels

An Israeli company named Tipa is developing biodegradable packages that automatically “perish” within 180 days, just like your average orange or banana. Now you can finally throw your junk out the window without feeling too guilty about it.

Most food and beverages we consume daily are packaged in plastic, which can take up to a thousand years to degrade.

Tipa co-founder and CEO, Daphna Nissenbaum, tells NoCamels that “today recyclable materials are used for disposable dishes, bags and travel packages but not for food, mainly because these materials lack the required qualities: they are too fragile, lack elasticity, are not sealed or contain dangerous ingredients. As a result, most of the food packing industry still relies on plastic."

The formula of materials used by Tipa contains a mixture of polymers, used to produce elastic and hard packages, with the qualities of standard plastic. These polymers are derivatives, or by-products, of several food kinds. The final material possesses all the qualities required for packaging, says Nissenbaum: "It is elastic, soundless, oxygen resistant and heat resistant. Therefore, the materials can be used for all kinds of food and beverages.”

Tipa is still in the stages of developing and testing its new materials. The company completed the first stage of research and development on packaging for soft foods, such as peanut butter, butter and jam. “For now, all the materials are suitable for liquid types of food,” says Nissenbaum and adds that they have already started working with several potential clients on pilot products for soft foods.

"The oxygen resistance quality and water-vapor permeation resistance is a result of two years of research and experimenting," says Nissenbaum.

Tipa is currently going through its second R&D phase, which focuses on packaging for beverages. Nissenbaum says creating biodegradable packages for liquids is their main challenge, since liquids are extremely difficult to package and the material almost always used for this purpose is plastic. 

Tipa’s R&D is divided into two departments: One develops the materials and the other experiments on real manufacturing machines, to make sure they can withstand the industrial processes of turning them into packages.

Nissenbaum says Tipa's aim is to have two to three pilot products on supermarket shelves by the end of this year.

So far, Tipa founders have raised $500,000 from private investors and Israel's Chief Scientist Office.

Photos by Tipa

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