What will food packaging look like in five to 10 years? Slate magazine takes a look at the question this week with a feature on "smart" packaging. Katy Waldman's story, "Waiting for the Wrap-ture," casts the future of food packaging in a very positive light. Plastics Blog readers who make packaging, or supply packaging companies, should take note:
But only recently have we begun to tap into packaging's potential to make our lives easier: to make food last longer or taste better, for instance, or to alert us when an ingredient goes bad. Experts think the packaging of the future will not just serve as a barrier, but also interact with the contained substance to somehow improve the consumer experience.The story offers examples of smart packaging -- some in the lab, some already on store shelves. One key recent development: MIT's Timothy Swager has developed a fairly inexpensive carbon nanotube sensor that detects ethylene, a chemical released by fruit as it ripens. Check it out, it could get you excited about the future of plastics packaging.