The one illustrated by the “22+ Ideas” team from the “International Leadership & Innovation” course of Management Engineering at the Milan Polytechnic is a concrete value proposition for sustainable hamburger packaging that addresses two key challenges: extending the shelf life of meat products and reducing the environmental impact of packaging disposal.
Students tell us more about the project:
Benedetta Colusso, Francesca Crippa, Sebastian Delgado Barba, Ramy Elsharoud, Pietro Gianola, Mauro Ingiardi.
1) Participating in the International Leadership & Innovation program at the PoliMI's Faculty of Mangement Engineering, you were involved in the ideation of a sustainable innovation project for MEAT-TECH 2024, the exhibition dedicated to innovative technologies, ingredients and solutions for the entire protein world. What did you realize and what was the idea behind the project?
Our innovation project for MEAT-TECH 2024 focuses on creating a sustainable packaging solution for hamburgers.
The main pillars of our concept are: 1) using corn starch plastic for the tray, a compostable material with properties similar to traditional plastic, 2) employing alginate-based film that is edible, resistant to fat and oil, and water soluble, 3) utilizing modified atmosphere technology (MAP) to overcome the limitations of the film by preserving the food with a specific gas combination, and 4) incorporating a smart label with pH check to indicate meat freshness through colour changes.
This combination of technologies results in a new, sustainable, and smart packaging suitable for various types of meat.
2) What do you think are the strengths of the project and what makes it truly innovative?
In terms of strengths, our project offers a complete value proposition for innovative packaging and introduces a process that is almost entirely feasible today.
The true innovation lies in the integration of existing technologies to address two key challenges: extending the shelf life of meat products and reducing the environmental impact of packaging disposal.
This project can be categorized as technology push innovation, as it combines previously existing technologies to create a new concept.
3) Being part of this project has brought you closer to the world of the food industry, a growing market full of opportunities. What aspects have you been most passionate about and what surprised you the most in the research part? What developments do you expect for your future?
During our project we were particularly passionate about significantly reducing the environmental impact of packaging. Packaging, especially plastic-based, contributes significantly to pollution. While our initial aim was to reduce environmental impact, we recognized the importance of extending product life in the food industry, where packaging plays a crucial role.
Consequently, we incorporated technologies to address this aspect as well. We were amazed by the growing number of technologies and materials available for packaging. However, the industry's slow adoption rate is primarily due to increased costs, with some packages even becoming more expensive than the product itself.
This leads to customer reluctance in paying for high-tech packaging. Our hope for the future is that technology costs will decrease, enabling wider industry adoption. As a result, the environmental impact of packaging in the industry will be significantly reduced.
Group Contact: Benedetta Colusso