As outstanding sustainable solutions are rare to find, we want to share an inspiring story about sustainable pioneers and their idea with you!

One of our main goals on this site is to boost your creativity concerning ideas that lead to a more sustainable society. In the past we have published several ideas of start-ups that solve pressing waste problems. So here is a new one in the hope it will be an inspiration to you as well. The following blogpost centers on the topic of ‘seaweed’. Or to be more exact: ‘seaweed-extract’.

If you think of seaweed, you will most likely think of sheets of the red dried alga called ‘Porphyra’. Best known for wrapping sushi or onigiri, seaweed is claimed to have health benefits for our body. This is the reason why there is a thing called ‘seaweed farming’. Grown by aquaculture in many countries like China, France, the UK or Japan, the seaweed production is steadily rising. In 2018 the global production increased to over 30.000.000 metric tons of edible seaweed.

Yann Macherez

Versatilely usable seaweed

However, the use of seaweed as a sustainable food source heavily depends on the sustainability of the natural resource and its production.

Some sustainable pioneers had a great idea on how to use seaweed in order to prevent plastic packaging. That’s what we want to present to you now. ‘Notpla’ is the name of the start-up we are talking about. Probably referring to ‘not plastic’, Rodrigo Gonzales and Pierre Paslier started to work on an idea to reduce plastic while studying at Imperial College London.

The sustainable outcome of their start-up experiment is called ‘Ooho’. It is a process that allows liquids to be captured inside a completely biodegradable skin. This biodegradable skin is made out of seaweed-extract. But how does this sustainable solution work? How can you capture liquids inside an edible skin?

Ooho

Here is how it works: Notpla takes certain amounts of water or other liquids and freezes them into a round shape. Afterwards, the freezed liquid is dipped into a viscous solution containing the seaweed-extract, this way creating the first skin-layer. The often and the longer the „ball“ is dipped into the solution, the thicker the skin will become. This process can make the pod extraordinary robust. Here you can see how the edible liquid pods look like (Credit: Notpla).

Their biggest success so far brought a lot of media resonance. In April this year the start-up cooperated with the London Marathon. A big problem accompanying these types of event is the insane amount of single-use plastic that comes with it. In 2018 an estimated 760.000 plastic bottles were thrown on the streets on the day of the event. The participants of this year’s marathon had the possibility to quench their thirst with seaweed pods filled with a sports drink. The pod could either be bitten and swallowed or it can be bitten and discarded afterwards. Unfortunately, the whole event could not yet be fully supplied by Notpla and single-use plastic bottles were still needed. Nevertheless, we think this is a pointer in the right direction for the future.

What do you think of this idea? Would you try an edible seaweed pod? In the future we want to let you decide what you want to read on this blog. Do you prefer reading about waste problematics like our blogpost about Agbogbloshie, or do you want to rather read about sustainable solutions like the one we presented here? Let us know in the comments!