Inventor David Edwards hopes his product can change the world. By teaming up with Le Laboratoire and Cafe ArtScience in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he has commercialized an edible packaging that can keep ice cream contained and cold for 50 days, even if it rinsed under water.
Perfectly Free Ice Cream, as it is called, may not seem like much to some, but Edwards hopes it can change the way mass markets approach food packaging in the future, which would yield worldwide environmental benefits.
Food packaging has a long history -- ever since there were humans, there were ways to preserve and store food. Some of the first food packaging, according Gary Cross and Robert Proctor, authors of "Packaged Pleasures: How Technology and Marketing Revolutionized Desire," were leaves used by early humans to transport food from one place to another.
From there, humans invented pots, baskets, and eventually screw-lid Mason jars and soda cans that would keep food or drink fresh or even carbonated.
But with human progress comes serious consequences, notes The Atlantic. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency reports that almost one-fourth of what is dumped in landfills is some sort of food packaging.
Most food packaging is made out of some type of plastic, which can sit in a landfill for centuries before it begins to decompose. In addition, when plastic is buried in landfills for long periods, harmful chemicals can spread into the groundwater, which has adverse health effects on humans, according to Scientific American.
“Plastics are very long-lived products that could potentially have service over decades, and yet our main use of these lightweight, inexpensive materials are as single-use items that will go to the garbage dump within a year, where they’ll persist for centuries,” environmental researcher Richard Thompson told Scientific American.
Edwards hopes his invention can prevent at least some of this. While his ice cream is still sold inside a box, he hopes to one day find a way to avoid even that.
Edwards' product marks a growing trend of small businesses attempting to reduce waste by revolutionizing the relationship to food packaging, according to The Atlantic. If the trend catches on, it's possible large companies behind brand name products will take note and do the same.