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New project creates edible food packaging and combats plastic waste

The new EAT-pack project, backed by Innovation Fund Denmark, is pioneering an innovative approach to reduce plastic use by developing edible food packaging. The initiative aims to minimize environmental impact by reducing the use of conventional food packaging materials.

Why is there an urgent need for this solution?

Plastic has many useful benefits such as keeping our food safe from bacteria and prolonging product shelf life, but it also presents challenges, particularly as it contributes significantly to CO2 emissions.

15 tons of plastic enter the ocean every minute

Half of all plastic produced is single-use, resulting in over 400 million tons of waste annually—equivalent to 1,095 Empire State Buildings. Additionally, 15 tons of plastic enter the ocean every minute, highlighting the urgent need for solutions. A major challenge is that mixed food packaging often gets burned instead of recycled. However, many Danish food companies are already implementing innovative solutions to address this issue.

Edible food film will reduce platic waste

An exceptionally innovative solution emerges from the EAT-pack project. EAT-pack is edible food film, created from by-products derived from citrus and orange peels obtained from the juice industry. The research will focus on identifying the optimal ingredients to mix with the powder to achieve the desired properties for the edible food film.

The film should be able to keep the food fresh and safe while also not affecting the look or taste of it. The idea is that consumers will not have to remove packaging but simply place the food directly on the stove or in the oven. The project will initially test the edible film on portioned rice, frozen pizza, and minced beef.

Other solutions from the Danish food cluster

Alongside EAT-pack, several Danish companies are leading the charge in sustainable packaging. Danish licorice company Lakrids by Bülow is a good example of this, as they utilize circular production in their packaging while maintaining ‘sustainable luxury’. The company’s initial actions include adopting 100% recycled and recyclable plastic for their jars and eliminating metal seals from the lids. They also use sustainable paper for jar labeling and incorporate 70% recycled material into their gift box cardboard.

Royal Greenland, a Greenlandic fishing company, has reduced CO2 emissions by over 50% with their innovative ‘scantainers’. These reusable cardboard boxes, which can be reused 15-20 times, replace traditional packaging and have cut packaging use by 43% over four years. This initiative also lightens shipping loads, further reducing fuel consumption and transportation emissions, resulting in significant cost savings.

Initiatives like these and EAT-pack signals a shift in food packaging, and is paving the way towards a more sustainable future for the food industry.

Want to know more about Denmarks climate initiatives in the food sector? Read more here: Climate | Digital White Paper – Food Nation (