Advancements in agriculture both depend on and will generate new investment in smart packaging. The nascent market for sustainable smart packaging is on the rise, ranging from moisture-control and temperature sensors incorporated into QR codes, to antimicrobial and edible packaging—even packaging that “eats” itself after it is no longer needed. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Minnesota are developing new kinds of polymers that will self-destruct or “unzip” when exposed to light, heat, or acid. Stockholm-based Tomorrow Machine and Innventia developed a self-cleaning plate and cup made from a superhydrophobic coating that rejects dirt. The upshot: It never needs washing. Saltwater Brewery in South Florida designed plastic rings for its six-packs of beer to be biodegradable and edible. So, rather than turtles getting caught in the plastic rings, the material becomes food for them. Berlin-based Infarm created a renewable sheet of plastic that folds to create a self-contained package. It uses seaweed-based agar-agar gel to grow microgreens and herbs that don’t need water. Tomorrow Machine has also developed packaging made from caramelized sugar and coated wax. Designed for rice, oil and smoothies, you crack the package like an egg and melt it in water. This kind of active and intelligent packaging used for meat has been shown to extend shelf life and cut costs.
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