Tuesday, 21 February 2012

MonoSol Creates Innovative Dissolvable Packaging To Combat Waste

Single-serve drink mixes and individually wrapped foods are a boon for landfill enthusiasts. Dissolvable-packaging maker MonoSol has a fix. Can you stomach it?

I'm eyeing the clear packet of hot chocolate, marked confidential & proprietary, I just dropped into a mug of steaming water. As I stir, bits of the plasticlike wrapper float to the top. The cocoa creeps out in waves. And then, in an instant, the remnants of the casing simply . . . disappear.

‘It's safe,’ assures the man to my side, who's holding a cup of the same. ‘Go ahead, try it.’

‘You first,’ I reply. We both chuckle, and take a sip.

Soon we may all be drinking what CEO P. Scott Bening and his materials-science shop MonoSol are serving. The company's water-soluble wrappers can be found encasing everything from clothing to pesticides to detergent, such as the Tide Pods Procter & Gamble will launch in the U.S. this month with a $150 million marketing push. ‘Our films are already in your laundry room and kitchen,’ says Bening, between drinks. Now he wants to bring them to your mouth.

Branding experts Karin Hibma and Michael Cronan suggest ways to convince it's okay to ‘eat plastic.’

Invoke nature: ‘Fruit has packaging in the form of skin, and we don't think twice about eating it," says Hibma. "MonoSol should emphasize that in its marketing.’

Add nutrients. ‘Edible casing that's merely neutral is bad," says Cronan. "Even if MonoSol just adds a few electrolytes, the film will be an easier sell.’

Make it relatable ‘Picture a TV ad showing a food wrapper that blows away from a dump, tumbles across fields, and winds up in your hand," says Cronan. "If this packaging eliminates that waste, it's a powerful message.’

Deep within its two northwest Indiana labs, MonoSol has been developing edible films that are soluble, biodegradable, even flavorable.

‘A blow-up view would kind of look like a brick of Ramen noodles,’ says Jon Gallagher, MonoSol's new product development manager. ‘Once there's water penetration, the molecular bonds loosen up.’ Until that point, the material is strong enough to serve as packaging for food. It's a wrapper until it isn't.'

At Last!

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