Ingredient eggshell: New packaging is edible and plastic-free

Visually, the small packet for the seasoning mix of ready-made pasta hardly differs from plastic. But as soon as hot water is poured over it, it dissolves. This saves waste with the instant noodles – and at the same time recycles old egg shells, because the packaging is made of these and other plant-based raw materials.

The product, which is not yet available on the market, was developed by five students from the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart. And they have already won a prize with it: At the “EIT Food Solutions: Reuse2Repack Challenge”, a competition that involved the development of bio-based packaging solutions from food waste, they were named “Team EDGGY” for the most innovative idea and with 1,200 euros prize money awarded. “EIT Food” is an initiative of the European Union to promote sustainable, healthy and trustworthy food innovations.

The idea of ​​using old egg shells for the packaging came to Lina Obeidat, a master’s student in food science, while she was cooking with her mother. “We also cracked eggs for our dish. The moment I want to throw away the shells, the idea hits me: what protects the egg should also be good packaging, right?” she says.

In her study module, she then found four fellow campaigners in Alena Fries, Bahar Abrishamchi, Paulina Welzenbach and Cora Schmetzer, with whom she worked to turn the idea into a finished product.

However, it was not easy: the students worked on their project for a total of nine months with the support of mentors from industry and science. Initially, they pored over specialist literature, experimented a lot, adjusted the methods again and again and analyzed their results. For example, experiments with starch failed because the packaging had become too hard, explains Fries. In the end, the best result was delivered by a rather simple approach.

“Our packaging is made from a simple mix of plant-based protein, eggshells and structuring plasticizers like water,” says Abrishamchi. “Nothing fancy or complicated – but it works.”

In addition, the water-soluble film contains proteins that are eaten when the pasta is eaten. That also makes the packaging healthy, says Obeidat.

Incidentally, for her and her team colleagues, winning the ideas competition, for which they were honored in Rome in November, is not the end of the project. Instead, the five want to further improve their product and maybe even found their own start-up. Sooner or later, the eco-friendly film made from eggshells could actually come onto the market. There are already plenty of raw materials to produce them: According to the Federal Statistical Office, around 13.2 billion eggs were produced in Germany in 2022 alone.


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