Combatting food waste... with a spray!

Posted on 04 March 2021.

How about eating food packaging to help the planet? The idea is the brainchild of an American company - edible spray-on packaging for fruit and vegetables.

A “second skin” slows the spoilage of fruit and vegetables by stopping water escaping from the surface and oxygen from penetrating.

In France, close to 1.2 million metric tons of plastic were used in domestic-use packaging in 2018. Although 56% of bottles and flasks are recycled, the rate slumps to 4% for plastic packaging, which among other things is used to protect food.

Meanwhile, in Europe an annual 88 million metric tons of food spoils before it ever reaches a consumer's table. Fruit and vegetables are particularly vulnerable, because the distribution chain doesn’t always manage to avoid the massive amounts waste.

But it’s possible to slow down the oxidation of fresh produce: you just have to prevent water escaping from the surface and oxygen from penetrating. Given that fruit and vegetables in plastic packaging is clearly not a green solution, wouldn't a biodegradable material be able to act as a barrier?

A natural second skin

In the US, Apeel Sciences was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to meet this specific objective. Apeel is a fully edible, plant-based spray treatment used to coat fruit and vegetables and so increase their shelf life.
Across the Atlantic, this "second skin" has already reduced waste by more than half in supermarkets that have sprayed it on their apples, asparagus and lemons.

And in Europe? Approved by the European Commission in June 2019, the technology is currently being tested by supermarkets in Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom. If its success is confirmed, it could become a new player in the fight against food waste... A promise in line with the European Commission's action plan for the circular economy.