Today’s Solutions: October 16, 2021

Last week we wrote about a takeout container made from edible, compostable material. Another sustainable container hitting the market comes from researchers at the University of Göttingen in Germany and uses an unusual base material: popcorn. 

Next time you eat popcorn, you might notice how its soft but durable structure sort of resembles packing peanuts. This is the exact thought that came to mind as researcher Alireza Kharazipour sat in a movie theater one day. From there, popcorn packaging was born. 

Just like styrofoam, popcorn is mostly air, but unlike styrofoam, it doesn’t take hundreds of years to break down. To create popcorn packaging, the team took crushed corn, sourced from the inedible by-products of cornflakes production, and expanded it into what they call “granulated popcorn.” 

Using different molds, the pliable popcorn material can be formed into any shape and when coated with a layer of bioplastic, it becomes water resistant. After use, it can easily be broken down and reused or just composted at home. 

Around the world, packaging accounts for about 40 percent of all plastic use. This versatile popcorn packaging could replace the vast majority of commercial packaging and even be used for takeout containers. The developers are already in discussions for the material’s use in commercial settings so hopefully, you will see popcorn packaging in a delivery order near you in the near future!

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