Plastic is a part of our lives. It packages many of the food products we buy, encases our electronics and is even found in our cars. Plastic waste causes numerous environmental problems, particularly in the world’s oceans where it makes up about 90 percent of all trash floating around. The biggest plastic waste ocean site is in the North Pacific Gyre. Called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it is twice the size of Texas. Since plastic takes a very long time to degrade, some 500 to 1,000 years, it is impossible to completely clean up.
There are two companies that have created a way to reduce plastic waste by eliminating packaging. Stonyfield Farm and WikiFoods have collaborated to provide frozen yogurt encased in edible packaging made from fruit skin. The product is called Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls, and an edible packaging called WikiPearl packages the less than 30-calorie frozen treat. The companies started a test market in March at four Whole Foods stores in the Boston area with six flavors.
WikiPearl technology protects the food or beverage wrapped inside without exposing it to chemicals or unnatural ingredients. It is made up of two parts: the food or beverage (frozen yogurt in this case) and the skin, an edible, biodegradable food made with organic fruit. WikiFoods describes the skin as a “protective electrostatic gel formed by harnessing interactions between natural food particles, nutritive ions and a polysaccharide.” The skin creates a layer that is not as permeable to air which allows them to be washed, carried and handled without damaging the food or beverage inside.
At the present time, consumers outside of the four test market areas will not be able to find Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls. However, Stonyfield and WikiFoods are working with retailers to create ways to sell them in the “near future,” as WikiFoods states on its website. The trouble is that stores are not yet equipped to sell them totally package-free. WikiFoods has created two Wikibars where they are sold to consumers who then put them into their shopping bags or containers. Wikibars are only in two locations: in Paris, France and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The collaboration between Stonyfield and WikiFoods received recognition earlier this summer at the 2014 World Dairy Innovation Awards in Istanbul, Turkey. The two companies won three awards for Best Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt, Best Dairy Packaging Innovation and Best Overall Concept.
The collaboration allows Stonyfield to fulfill a long-held dream to provide its products without packaging, as co-founder and chairman, Gary Hirshberg explained. “We’ve long dreamed of the day that after you eat the yogurt, you eat the cup too. Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls are the next step in our evolution,” Hirshberg said. “No spoon needed, just a delicious bite of beautifully crafted organic frozen yogurt served without any container. Re-imagine all the ways you can eat your favorite organic dessert – in the car, on the beach, with the kids at the park – no spoon, no waste, no limits.”
WikiFoods envisions a time when many different food and beverage products are packaged with WikiPearl. WikiFoods already has a number of Wikipearl products, including frozen yogurt, ice cream, cheese, fruits, vegetables, water, cocktails and soups. The founder of WikiFoods, David Edwards described the company in a video as “a vision of a totally new way in which we package food and beverage so we eliminate the wasteful packaging that is so present in food and beverage today.”
Image credit: WikiFoods
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.