The Waste Biz: Turning Agricultural Waste Into Packaging

  • Published on May 29th, 2015

wheat straw is an agricultural waste product that can be turned into packaging

While sustainable packaging doesn’t necessarily have to be edible, there does need to be a responsible end-of-life solution baked into the material. Biodegradability tends to be the quality for which designers shoot, but that’s often meant diverting food crops to packaging… and that’s not particularly sustainable. Agricultural wastes, on the other hand, are a great option for creating packaging that could break down naturally, and two German companies have created a process for turning such materials into packaging.

While there are a number of sustainability wins in this concept from Zelfo Technology and Upgrading, one of the coolest – in my mind, anyway – is the ability to turn a business’ own plant wastes into the packaging that it uses. Eduardo Gordillo of Upgrading tells FoodProductionDaily.com that their Micro and Nano Fibrillated cellulose packaging could use wastes from cacao trees for chocolates, or olive tree waste for olive oil bottles. The current concept uses wheat straw because that was readily available.

The process gets a bit technical, so rather than trying to reproduce that, I’ll suggest taking a closer look at the article from FoodProductionDaily.com. Know of other projects focused on turning crop wastes into packaging or other materials? Do share…

In other waste biz news…

This food cart could run on its own waste: New York City food carts pump a lot of emissions into the air because of their use of generators. New carts coming out will be solar-powered, but the possibility exists for them to use biogas generated from their own food waste for running their generators. Co-Exist has more details.

Mobile woody biomass electricity production: More and more, states are encouraging or requiring that biomass stay out of landfills. ElectraTherm and Air Burners have developed a mobile whole-log wood waste burner that can turn woody biomass into electricity on the spot – no transporting of the waste required. (via Waste Dive)

Photo credit: Shutterstock

About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at