How Roza Janusz Invented a Packaging Made from Kombucha Bacteria

What is the definition of a farmer? Can a farmer grow their own packaging?

Roza Janusz

Innovators We Meet: We first learned about Scoby, an environmentally friendly and edible packaging material, when reading about its inventor, Roza Janusz, in this articlein CO.Design. Scoby is an acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Whatever it is, as long as it’s not plastic and doesn’t hurt baby turtles, we already love it.  

When we talked to Roza about how kombucha turns into packaging, she told us the story of a dessert. Nata de coco is a sweet coconut delicacy originally from the Philippines. The recipe is coconut water plus the bacteria Acetobacter xylinum. Bacteria eat the sugar, fermenting the coconut water into a sweet gel.

In a similar fashion, Roza “grows” her Scoby in vertical systems: the brown sheets of “packaging” are the fermented byproduct left over from the bacteria munching away on the sugar. Bacteria poo, you might say. The sheets are organic, edible and have shelf life of at least six months (Roza is currently tweaking her invention in hope of achieving an even longer shelf life).

Roza is all about demonstrating what she calls “good symbiosis” in the supply chain. In a bout of philosophical contemplation, Roza mused, “What is the definition of a farmer? Can a farmer grow algae or insects? Can a farmer grow their own packaging?” Her questions had us scratching our heads – and ordering a ton of sheets to see the answer for ourselves.

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