A milk capsule is a better alternative to milk in plastic containers. [Photo by Martha Wellner / MLU]
Milk capsules will reduce your use of plastic, and they'll keep your morning coffee creamy as well.
These capsules dissolve instantly in a hot beverage, meaning you can just drop them straight into your mug, stir, and take a sip of your drink. They're a lot like sugar cubes for tea, the creators say, with a crystalline layer that holds the shape of the capsules. “A crystalline crust forms a type of packaging around the capsules that easily dissolves in hot liquid,” says Martha Wellner, one of the developers. Thus, the capsules are easier to use than fiddly milk containers that can also add to plastic waste.
Places like hotels, airplanes, and restaurants use single-serving containers for milk, and it can all pile up. Plastic waste is already a significant problem, with large “islands” of plastic floating around in the world's oceans and harming wildlife. Thus, not only are the capsules easier to use, they're also easier on the planet.
Surprisingly, the production of the milk capsules isn't as complicated as it may seem. The developers first take a solution of milk and sugar or a non-sweet material that can give coating properties. Then, they place the solution and sugar into a mold. The milk-sugar solution then begins to cool down, which makes excess sugar move to the exterior of the solution. Multiple trials allowed the developers to figure out the best materials and cooling processes that deliver the best results.
If you're a fan of unsweetened coffee, however, you may have to wait a little while longer. For now, there are only sweetened and lightly sweetened options, but there is no unsweetened sugar-free option yet. However, the developers are already working on the sugar-free version for those that like their coffee with more than its usual kick.
The capsules can come in different sizes and can keep in room temperature for about three weeks. According to Wellner, the encapsulation process doesn't just apply to milk. It can also apply to other liquids, like fruit juice.
Milk capsules haven't hit market shelves yet, though the developers filed the patent back in 2015. The product still has to be evaluated, but if it gets approved for mass production, it can be a small but significant step toward reducing plastic waste.
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