The edible packaging is made of a sugar processing by-product called bagasse, mixed with chitosan and alginate. Bagasse is what is left over once sugar cane is crushed for the juice. Chitosan is made from the shells of shrimp (it's used in agriculture and even winemaking). Alginate is derived from algae. All three compounds are bound with electrostatic charges and turned into an edible shell membrane. The shell can also be made into a compostable, quickly biodegradable covering that, if you don't want to eat, will break down very fast in the environment the way fruit peelings do.
Edwards unveiled WikiCells bottles in February at Harvard's Wyss Institute, and made appearances in Paris last week showing some of the ways food might be packaged. One of his ideas was ice cream inside a chocolate membrane.
One thing that makes these shells easy to commercialize is that the technology isn't new – the ingredients are all well known and have been manufactured for a century or more. The down side is that this packaging would have a sell by date, just like the food in it. People might also resist eating the packaging of their food this way – eating a water bottle is a bit of an alien idea. But the fact that the package is biodegradable makes a big difference, and at the very least might mean the great garbage patches in the ocean won't get any larger.
Via Fast Company, Wyss Institute