Sustainable Corn Husk Takeaway Packaging

The goal of this project was to create new sustainable packaging solutions for the takeaway industry. We created a new packaging material and system for McDonalds. By creating a paper like material from waste cornhusks we created a packaging solution in which no plastic polution is created and no trees have to be harvested.

//Exploratory Research
The first part of our research was finding out what materials current solutions are comprised of and how they are disposed of. We weighed and documented the material usage for different takeaway restaurants. The majority of the packaging is either made from wood derived paper or different types of plastic. Although these materials are technichly recyclable we discovered that in most cases the material ends up in landfill or incineration. This is due to several reasons. Food debris left on paper packaing make it diffuclt to recycle. These products are often used when people are in a rush and don’t have time to sort out the waste. Additionaly, After visting the Western Riverside Recycling Facility in London we learnt that recycling plastic is becoming increasingly difficult and the majority of it ends up in incineration.

Once we had carried out initial research and defined the design requirements we carried out an ideation session where we generated lots of potentital ideas to develop. These ideas were then grouped and reduced down until we fused the final few together into our chosen solution.

The packaging itself is made from discarded corn husks. These are traditionally used in mexican cuisine Tamales to naturally wrap food. The corn husks are processed into a cardboard like material which can be folded into any shape. The packaing is used in the store in exactly the same way as existing packaging.

Once the packaging is finished with use, it can be put in a single compost bin along with all other waste. This is then collected and sent to compost facilities. Once the composting process is complete, the compost is sent to the farms that grew the corn in the first place to complete the circular system.

//Manufacturing Process
The process to manufacture corn husk board is very similar to the traditional paper making process. It involves the boiling and pulping of the material to seperate the fibres which are then flatened into a sheet and dried. For now this was done in our kitchen but in future a more sophisticated setup will be used. The step by step manufacturing process is shown bellow.

1) Raw Corn Husks

2) Corn Husks Chopped Into small sections

3) Boiled to break up fibres

4) Fibres pulped and washed

5) Pulp drained on mesh into flat sheet

6) Dried corn husk sheet pattern layed out

7) Net shape for box cut out

8) Finished box ready for use

//Tools Used
+Circular Design 
+Adobe Illustratror
+Adobe Indesign
+Corn Husk
+Calcium Carbonate

+ Mark Ridge
+ Ben Collis
+ Dec 2018