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Scoby: edible packaging material grown from bacteria

Polish designer Roza Janusz developed Scoby, an alternative to plastic food packaging that is made by bacteria and can be eaten or composted after use.

A large part of the plastic waste in the world comes from single use plastic, which includes packaging material. Janusz’s material offers an alternative that does not litter, but rather enriches the environment.

The packaging material is a membrane created through fermentation process by bacteria, yeast and agricultural waste. Like plastic packaging, it serves as a barrier against oxygen, which is the main culprit of food decomposition.

To make the material Scoby, Janusz started with scoby, the living home for bacteria and yeast used to make kombucha tea. The scoby is fed agricultural waste, forming a sheet of material without the need of sunlight. It takes about two weeks for a thin, malleable film to form that looks and acts like a pig’s intestine, used to wrap some sausages, but is fully vegetarian. The material would be ideal to be grown by farmers, as the tools you need for the packaging material are similar to what you need to grow onions.

The material is suitable to store dry or semi-dry foods, from nuts to salads. It keeps, too, as the first prototype is still edible after 6 months. After use, the nutritious membrane can be eaten or composted, serving as natural fertiliser or a probiotic drink. The packaging material can also be cooked along with the content. It taste similar to kombucha.

Janusz is currently working to commercialise Scoby as food packaging.

Form more sustainable packaging material, click here.

Photos: Roza Janusz

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