Researchers have developed a new type of pasta that could drastically reduce food packaging waste while still delivering your favorite shapes of noodles.
At the Morphing Matter Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, scientists have worked to engineer pasta that comes flat in a package, then twists into familiar shapes once it boils in water, according to Inverse. The breakthrough could reduce food packaging waste by as much as 60%, which is a major win for efficiency.
Though twisty pasta shapes like fusilli provide unique textures and pleasing visual aesthetics, they’re not prone to particularly efficient packaging, as their shape creates large pockets of air between dry noodles.
The researchers’ new method of transforming flat pasta into 3D shapes streamlines the packaging process, allowing more noodles to fit into a package without sacrificing the shape of the pasta once it’s cooked.
This is a major breakthrough because food packaging creates such enormous waste around the world. According to the EPA, packaging accounts for more than 23% of the total material hitting landfills in the United States and also causes major problems for wildlife when it’s littered. Maximizing packaging efficiency can help reduce the amount of plastic waste that we consume in our grocery shopping.
One Redditor noted, “I hope this catches on. While they aren’t exactly ‘classic’ pasta shapes, I would totally buy these, and the first time someone sees it, it would be such a fun experience.”
The innovative new pasta design could eventually expand to other types of food.
“We have only quantitatively tested pasta so far,” said Lining Yao, the director of the Morphing Matter Lab. “However, in principle, we anticipate this can be adapted to a variety of food that can swell in water, including food gels — like gelatin dessert, or Japanese wagashi — and other flour-based noodles.”
“We can also make creative shapes, as a thin line turns into a heart, or a disk turns into a rose flower,” Yao said. “These will be interesting for festivals or celebrations like birthdays.”
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