Sustainable Flat-Packed Pasta Is Coming!

Jun 02, 2021by Olivia - F&F

We’ve all tried IKEA’s flat-packed furniture, but what if the same idea could apply to pasta? 

This flat, shape-shifting pasta is something of science fiction — but the team of researchers at Pennsylvania’s Carnegie Mellon University believe that it could drastically reduce the amount of packaging required for food! When boiled, the 2D pasta swells into delicious 3D pasta shapes, like fusilli spirals and conchiglie shells. 

Here at F&F, we’re so excited to see new innovations in food science; especially ones that reduce the need for excessive, polluting plastic! Let’s take a look at how this flat-packed pasta works, and what this means for the future of food packaging. 

How does Flat-Packed Pasta Work?

It looks a bit like space food, but you can rest assure that it tastes the same as regular pasta. The creators of the flat-packed pasta believe it could actually be tastier than regular pasta due to its grooved structure.

The shape-shifting pasta, developed by Wen Wang and her colleagues at Pennsylvania’s Carnegie Mellon University, is able to expand and unravel due to a process called parametric surface grooving. Each individual piece of pasta is lined with tiny grooves, which are placed in specific patterns.“The groove pattern in terms of the depth, height, and spacing are very important. It allowed us to bend the pasta into the desired shape,” says Wang to New Scientist. The classic dough, made from semolina flour and water, takes roughly seven minutes to cook - similar to normal dry pasta.

Flat-Packed Pasta for the Planet

The world’s first sustainable flat-packed pasta could revolutionise the food packing industry!

When we think about it, a lot of food packaging is created to make space for enough air. For example, Wang estimates that 60% of a box or bag of macaroni pasta is made up of air — that means more plastic is needed to accommodate a small amount of food.

Flat-packing pasta and other dried foods could reduce the amount of plastic packaging required for the foodstuff, and save on storage and transportation space! This is really good news for the planet. In the future, it means that we could drastically reduce the plastic required for food packaging and cut down on the carbon footprint of food transportation.

 Pasta Shapes

Plastic Food Waste in Australia

Australians eat a lot of pasta. A poll by Good Food Australia found that 61% of us had eaten some form of pasta within the previous week. 

During lockdowns, dry pasta disappeared off the shelves almost overnight. The only problem is that it’s quite hard to find fresh and dry pasta that isn’t packaged in plastic. Currently, Aussies throw away around 1.9 million tonnes of plastic packaging per year, which is enough to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground nine times.

It’s clear that we have a massive plastic problem, and excessive plastic-wrapped food is a primary source. This fantastic innovation presents a massive opportunity for the future of food packaging. It doesn’t completely eliminate the need for plastic, but any innovation that reduces the need for plastic gets a big thumbs up from us!

If you love hearing about what’s new in the world of food and science, head to The Eco Hub for more interesting stories.

More Articles