Over recent years we have all considered our approach to environmental issues and their links to our Corporate Social Responsibilities. This has brought about many innovative thoughts particularly in Food & Beverage operations. However, most of the packaging initiatives still end up in a landfill site where they may stay for a few hundred years. Of course the age old problem is that biodegradable items only break down if restaurants and their consumers take the extra steps to separate and sort them into the waste stream.

Perhaps the answer may lay in the recent initiative by the Brazilian food restaurant called Bob’s. Its burgers were recently wrapped in a packaging you could eat along with the burger; bun and relish enclosed….Zero waste ‘done with taste’ so to speak. The wrappers are made of edible rice paper and were conceived along with the company’s advertising agency in order to focus upon the environmental benefits. The campaign suggested that the burger was so good you couldn’t even wait to unwrap it before eating it. Does it also allow for a whole new range based on the flavour of the edible wrapper, ‘chili flavoured wrapper’ may enhance burger eating and marketing experience

Interestingly the campaign made more of the innovation than the ‘green-washing’ effect therefore opening the door to those who would not normally think themselves as environmentally conscious.

Although edible food wrappers have been around for some time most have either required expensive technology or require a huge leap of faith by the consumer to embrace the change, Bobs has taken a far more practical and achievable approach.

The campaign only lasted a short time and Bobs has since returned to its original traditional paper wrappers however it does pose the question if there would greater life to such a switch and does it deserve more investigation by the food industry as to its longevity.

Of course the final piece of the argument surrounds the sourcing of the rice paper and the sustainability of its production against that of the paper product, we may be in a situation that it would solve one issue and create three more from an ecological perspective.

The innovation brings along with it a whole new debate however, certainly one that marketers, fast food operators and consumer focus groups may well decide to take forward?

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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