From waffle bowls to tortilla wraps, edible containers have a long history when it comes to food.

Problem is, waffle bowls aren’t exactly suited to long-term use. Or storage. Or shipping.

Food: edible. Packaging: not so much.

Until now.

Dubbed “the next big thing” by The Guardian, Time Magazine, and Packaging Digest, edible packages for food are poised to make sure you can have your cake—and then eat the box.

Two companies are working to develop packaging for food that’s as edible as what’s inside.

The first, WikiCells, is the brainchild of Harvard professor and engineer David Edwards. Dubbed “Bottles that we eat,” WikiCells are thin membranes produced from food particles, flavoured to match or enhance the solid, liquid, emulsion, or foam that they contain. So far, the lab that created WikiCells has developed a tomato-flavoured membrane for gazpacho, an orange-flavoured one for orange juice, and a chocolate-flavoured container for hot chocolate.

Although they’re resistant to water diffusion—meaning they won’t collapse as a result of the fluid inside them—WikiCells are soft, and therefore have to be packaged within a harder container in order to be shipped. The company predicts that this container could also be edible or, at the very least, biodegradable. Ultimately, WikiCells will be created on-site using a WikiCell machine, eliminating the need for transportation.

Another company, MonoSol, has developed a water-soluble packet for dry goods that need to be reconstituted—think instant coffee, hot chocolate, and oatmeal. Using the same type of technology that creates dissolvable dishwasher packs, MonoSol’s Edible Film dissolves completely in cold or hot water.

And if you don’t feel like using edible packaging, there’s always edible wrappers—used most prominently by the uber-popular Coolhaus ice cream trucks. Derived from potatos, they’re apparently not tasty—but then they’re not waste-y, either.

The benefits of going edible is obvious. With packaging making up 3.2 million tonnes of the 26 million tonnes of household waste that gets produced every year, reducing that amount could save a significant amount of landfill space.

The problem? Most consumers don’t want to eat something that may have passed through dozens of hands during shipping. Until edible containers can be made washable or are kept clean until purchase, that’s going to remain the big barrier.

It’s only a matter of time. Until then, though, break out the waffle bowls.

Image credit: rootseven