“Fast Food" is not a modern invention. In Ancient Rome, a large share of the lower-classes lived in insulae (multi-story apartment buildings) and fed themselves at food vendors and regularly frequented popina - simply furnished locations that served cheap wine and light meals.

With the rise of personal automobiles and drive-in restaurants after World War I, Roy W. Allen opened his first root beer stand; it was June 1919, and the place was 13 Pine Street in Lodi, California, In 1923, Allen joined forces with Frank Wright and so began the first "fast food chain": A&W Restaurants.

Though current fast food debates are rife with regard to the health and nutrition benefits and detriments of these mostly ultra-processed meals, the industry itself continues to grow.

One major issue that surrounds the variety of wrapped offerings from drive-thru windows and cashier registers is that packaging from fast food meals represents a major sources of litter. Any cross country journey in the US reveals fast food trash on our road-sides, in our coastal wash and adjacent to our railway tracks.  

One Smart Bean

South African entities The Hardy Boys agency and THB Disturbance have begun forging their path to introducing both a healthy, fast food snack and a serving container product that is wholly renewable - with the outer shells transforming themselves into the packaging in which the "Fair Food Co." snack is served.

We're not talking about any magical or mythical creatures, just Edamame. The popular Japanese green soybean appetizer steamed in its pod. The companies call the edamame business One Smart Bean.

Aside from the health benefits derived from consuming a steamed vegetable instead of fried treats, the byproduct of eating the edamame lends itself to a virtuous cycle, or better recycling, as the fiber-rich outer shells discarded by the consumer can be reused to make soy packaging, in which the next crop of edamame snacks is served.

Though there’s no real innovation in the recycling process, the companies hope to transform public perception and awareness. Part of this education process is the container, decorated with graphics and text that describe the cycle from pods to packets.

The appealing and instructive design, together with the opportunity to experience (and eat) the process first-hand helps people relate to recycling, and hopefully encourages fast food consumers to think about the sustainability of their snack system.