Innovation That Matters

Notplas makes food packaging out of seaweed | Photo source The Earthshot Prize

Replacing single-use plastic with a seaweed-based packaging

Springwise Earthshot

A 100 per cent compostable packaging material breaks down like fruit peel

Spotted: The first fully synthetic plastic was invented in 1907 – before the Titanic sank. But it wasn’t until the 1970s that plastic production really took off. And nearly half of all the plastic ever made was produced since the year 2000, while annual plastic production today runs at nearly 400 million tonnes.

What is the ultimate fate of all this synthetic material? Only nine per cent of all the plastic we’ve produced has been recycled, while 12 per cent has been incinerated. The rest has been sent to landfill or informally dumped.

Bioplastics made from plant-based sources such as vegetable oil are often touted as a potential solution to this problem. But they represent just one per cent of the plastic produced annually, and their use tends to be confined to a small number of consumer applications. But what if the ocean offered an alternative?

UK-based Notpla is turning to seaweed as a solution to the plastic problem. The company uses seaweed waste to create biodegradable alternatives to traditional plastic packaging. Its latest product – currently in development – is Notpla Hard Material, a solid packaging solution that is suitable for moulding.

Notpla’s mission is to ‘make packaging disappear’, and all its products are completely home compostable, chemical-free, and formulated to break down harmlessly.

Other seaweed-based innovations spotted by Springwise include another seaweed packaging company in Norway, and batteries and soundproofing made from seaweed.

Written By: Matthew Hempstead


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