INNOVATION: Eco-friendly food packaging from fermented bacteria and yeast.

08. February 2019 | Material | via

From Peel to Peel is made from a culture of bacteria combined with fruit and vegetable leftovers (Credit:

Italian designer Emma Sicher has combined food waste with bacteria and yeasts to create disposable packaging, in a bid to provide a sustainable alternative to plastic.

The project, called From Peel to Peel, sees Sicher make eco-friendly food packaging and containers by fermenting microbial cellulose, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts – also known as scoby – with fruit and vegetable leftovers as described in an article on The microorganisms in the scoby substance reacts with the fructose and vitamins still naturally contained in food waste to proliferate and create layers of cellulose – a key structural component in the walls of plant cells that helps them remain stiff. To create the material fruit and vegetable scraps are soaked in water with scoby and acetic compound. The microorganisms turn the fructose and vitamins in the scraps into pure cellulose, until it forms a gelatin-like material.

This mixture is then left to rest for two to four weeks, depending on the desired thickness, before being dried at room temperature. Once dried, it becomes a translucent sheet of material, sharing similar characteristics to paper, plastic and leather.

The material can be dried on different surfaces to achieve various textures and patterns – the smoother the drying support the shinier the cellulose will be, for instance a layer dried on a plexiglass board will resemble plastic.