We have shown you how much problems that plastics have caused to our earth nowadays in many of our articles. Yet, most people still don’t pay enough attention to the potential harm of plastic use. And if this kind of bad habit keeps on going, this world will be covered with plastic someday.
Many efforts and methods conducted to at least reduce the use of plastic in everyday life. Among those works, there is one method that is currently being developed. In order to reduce the use of plastic for wrapping foods, processed seaweeds may replace the function.
Why using seaweed? Seaweed is high in fiber, and it is pretty easy to extract the fiber from seaweed. The seaweed fiber is also biodegradable, making it and eco-friendly option in addition to the availability all around the world. Here are some examples of people developing seaweed products to replace plastic.
The Agar Plasticity
Plastic has been used in many things, including packaging, and those packaging plastics are single use plastics that will be thrown away afterward. A Japanese design company, AMAM, saw that the use of plastic wrapping in this world had gone out of control.
Thus, to decrease the use of plastic, three men of AMAM, Kosuke Araki, Noriaki Maetani, and Akira Muraoka decided to find a way to develop eco-friendlier way to package goods. Although it is slightly beyond their area of interest as working designers, but the team succeeded to develop an inovation.
The AMAM guys developed Agar Plasticity from agar, gelatinous material that can be found in red marine algae. “We were attracted to the materiality of agar, the delicacy in its texture and beauty in its appearance, at a local supermarket,” told Araki to Good.
They then saw that agar in some ways can resemble the features of plastic. “Relatively soon after that, we thought its delicate and light structure would be suitable for cushioning material. Then, we did some experiments and found agar was moldable,” he said.
They then decided to send the proposal of the idea to 2016 Lexus Design Award. Surprisingly, the proposal of Agar Plasticity could reach the final stage. Araki told that this is a kind of surprise because the three were just teamed up in 2015.
The process of making Agar Plasticity is actually quite simple, almost similar to making agar food. But some additional process is required to get the plastic-like texture. After cooking the agar, the mold is frozen for two days.
This freezing process is to obtain the specific structure that can be used for cushioning. And after two days in the freezer, the agar is thawed and air dried. The result is a solid structure that resembles the structure of plastic.
“We are ultimately dreaming of replacing disposable plastic products, such as shopping bags, amenity goods prepared at hotels and so forth, with agar-derived plastic,” said Araki. “We believe in that possibility, but unfortunately that is beyond our ability, too technical and chemical for us to achieve by ourselves”.
So, Araki and his team said that they need some support from professionals to be able to reach the dream. “We hope some researchers become interested in our project and get in touch with us for a possible collaboration.”
The Seaweed Sachets
Another seaweed-based plastic alternative is also being developed in Indonesia, the second biggest plastic waste contributor to the ocean on earth. But instead of focusing in larger cushioning, the startup company, Evoware, is concerning on smaller sachets and food wraps like instant noodle’s seasoning.
They try to develop a kind of plastic-like wrap that is stable for up to two years, but dissolvable in warm water. So, there is no more need to throw away the seasoning sachet that would litter the ocean, instead you can also eat it with your noodle.
Looking at the fact, 90% of the plastic waste ends up in the ocean, and 70% of those plastic wastes are foods and beverages packing. So, by reducing the very root of the plastic waste’s greatest contributor, there is a chance that this innovation will be a good way to eliminate global plastic problems.
Actually, not only concerning on cleaner earth, but there is also another mission that the company try to bring. “Our mission is to create innovative solutions from seaweed to solve plastic waste issue, while increasing the livelihood of Indonesia’s seaweed farmers,” they say in their official website.
This is concerning on the fact that 5 of the 6 poorest provinces in Indonesia are actually producing seaweeds. In addition, even most seaweed farmers are living far from prosperity due to loan sharks and complicated marketing chains.
Basically, the products of Evoware can be classified into two kinds. The first one is biodegradable one that can be used for packaging non-consumables, also may be used to replace plastic bags. And the second one is the edible one.
The edible one is almost tasteless and odorless, making it will not affect your foods much in taste and smell. Instead, it will give you more nutrition like fiber, vitamins, and minerals because it is made of seaweed.
So, no wonder if someday we will be at more ease if you want to cook instant noodle, just pour hot water in the container and wait for it to be cooked. No more need to open the seasoning sachet and litter the earth with more plastic.
The Edible Water Container
Plastic bottle is another example of single use plastic that litters our ocean. It belongs to the 70% of plastic waste that comes from beverages packing. Concerning on that problem, a startup called Skipping Rock Labs tried to develop a water container that will not litter the ocean.
The company founded by three students in London developed a water capsule called “Ooho!”. This capsule is not only degradable, but also edible. Because similar to two products mentioned above, it is made of seaweed.
The product is made from seaweed gelatin and calcium chloride. Not only biodegradable, this product is also cheap to produce. An “Ooho!” water pouch only costs two cents to produce. This is the future that we want to make this world a cleaner place.