As part of her Design course at the Universität der Künste Berlin (Berlin University of the Arts), student Amelie Graf has developed a sustainable packaging. What is ingenious about it is that the packaging is edible and thus itself becomes food! JELUCEL® cellulose powder was used as a raw material in this. The design student has now been nominated for the German Sustainability Award Design (DNP Design) with her edible food packaging, called the Meal Bag.
How it all started
The starting point for Amelie Graf’s Master’s project was the question: “How do we manage materials?” She wanted to investigate how stone behaves and what can arise from this. She gathered samples from a nearby limestone quarry. The decision to pick stone as a material was based on her father’s occupation as a sculptor. During her numerous material studies, the environmentally aware student hit upon the idea of creating a bioplastic from powdered limestone, starch and birch cellulose.
A dual-purpose material
It took her several months to develop a bioplastic, but Amelie Graf wanted more. Her bioplastic shouldn’t just be a packaging – it should also be edible. She wanted her product to offer a dual benefit.
Support from JELU-WERK
While searching for a suitable cellulose approved for foodstuffs, the design student came across JELU-WERK. The company was receptive to her proposed project and lent support for it. Furnished with JELUCEL® cellulose powder in different fibre lengths, Amelie Graf conducted further experiments. The kitchen at home was turned into a testing laboratory.
From sustainable to edible packaging
The Berlin student blended the ingredients and varied the recipes countless times on her cooker. When she ran out of cellulose, JELU-WERK sent more. She worked meticulously on it until the material she had developed felt like plastic and was suitable as a packaging material.
In the Meal Bag, Amelie Graf has developed a sustainable product that portrays packaging in a new light. Her innovative product can help to bring greater environmental awareness even to people who do not actively subscribe to ecological ideals.
Sustainable packaging as food
The chief constituents of the sustainable packaging are JELUCEL® cellulose powder and corn starch. The novel packaging is suitable for foods such as pasta, beans, soup vegetables and many other items. It contains cellulose powder approved for foodstuffs and provides valuable dietary fibre. It also binds liquids and functions as a sauce thickener in cooking. The packaging just needs to be washed thoroughly, like vegetables, and cut into pieces.
An ecological alternative to plastic packaging
Amelie Graf’s Meal Bag is a 100% plastic-free packaging that dispenses the food, protects it from external influences and keeps it airtight. It also helps to reduce the amount of plastic waste generated by the retail trade.
Consumers are becoming more environmentally aware and calls for sustainable packaging are getting louder. The Meal Bag therefore offers a genuine alternative, closing the natural material cycle because:
- It is edible
- It is compostable within a short time
- It can be recycled
Nominated as a visionary product
With her edible packaging, Amelie Graf has created a visionary product. The Meal Bag has been nominated for the German Sustainability Award Design (DNP Design) in the “Visions” category. The DNP is being awarded for the first time this year. This novel packaging is synonymous with exemplary sustainability and deserves recognition as such. We wish Ms Graf every success with her Meal Bag!
Pictures by Amelie Graf, portrait of Amelie Graf by Paul Pankow