Peel Saver innovation packages street fries in their own peel waste
11 Oct 2018 --- The packaging solution is sometimes right in front of your eyes. That is the view of Simone Caronni, Pietro Gaeli and Paolo Stefano Gentile, three product designers from NABA University in Milan, who have created cone-shaped fries packaging from discarded potato peels. Fries companies produce a lot of potato peels: the idea of this project is to use this material to save on waste while producing eco-conscious packaging, the trio says, and so the Peel Saver was born.
PackagingInsights speaks with Simone Caronni of the design team about the inspiration and technicalities of this novel packaging.
“Traditional street food packaging has a very short usage time, almost immediately becoming a hardly recyclable burden on the environment. Peel Saver is a sustainable remedy which aims to replace plasticized paper packaging,” Caronni says.
“With the Peel Saver, fries are served inside the same peel that originally contained and protected the potato, creating a symmetry with the original, natural state of the potato, while minimizing waste. Peel Saver shows a different point of view, a return to simplicity and to what nature already designed for us. We can say that nature inspired us,” he explains.
The potato peel is made up of starches and fibers components, which after maceration and natural drying, acquire the ability to bond with each other and harden. The obtained material is completely made of production waste and is 100 percent biodegradable. After being used, the packaging can be usefully reinserted in the biological cycle becoming animal food or fertilizer for plants.
The material bonding process came as a welcome surprise to the design team. “The material is made only with potato peels,” Caronni continues. “We can say that there was a process of experimentation of the material: the initial idea was to combine the peels with another material, then we realized that the peels could themselves guarantee (through a process of maceration and drying) a sufficient solidity and consistency independently.”
Caronni and his co-designers have “hypothesized different scenarios” in which the Peel Saver could be put to good use after first use.
“As the packaging is composed only of peel, it can be differentiated in the collection of moisture and used to produce energy,” Caronni says. “If it is thrown to the ground by some users, it can then become food for animals and birds, or alternatively be used as a fertilizer for plants. Ultimately, the Peel Saver is designed to be a single-use product but one which is totally natural, biodegradable and compostable.”
Could the Peel Saver be used to package more than fries? In principle yes, says Caronni, but at the expense of what he calls “the poetic aspect of the project,” – that is, the symmetry of the potato serving to package its own edible produce.
At the moment, the project is only a “concept design” and the idea of mass production and commercialization is still a way off.
“We do not have the resources or the time to carry on the project and identify new development routes at present, but in the future, we would like to carry on the project, and see if someone might be interested in supporting us. Maybe some companies would be interested in trying to produce it, we will not exclude any possibilities,” Caronni says.
“We would like to thank our University, NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti di Milano), in which the project was realized and in particular our teacher, Barbara Pollini, who supported and followed us during the course,” he concludes.
The Peel Saver shares similarities with Polish design student Roza Janusz's SCOBY project: an organic and sustainable packaging material which is grown and can be eaten or decomposed after use. It is made of bacteria and yeast and grown through a fermentation process.
Read more about SCOBY and other forward-thinking and sometimes entirely unusual biodegradable/compostable packaging solutions here.
By Joshua Poole
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