Back Seaweed: the packaging that disappears
With the environmental effects of single-use plastic being felt the world over, the need for a sustainable alternative is at an all time high. We take a look at the biodegradable seaweed packaging from Notpla, and the potential it brings into the world of alternative packaging for the future.
“We create advanced packaging solutions that disappear, naturally.”
Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez and Pierre Paslier co-founded Skipping Rocks Lab in 2013 while studying Innovation Design Engineering at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art where they developed this innovative material.
After the video for their first product ‘Ooho’ went viral in 2013, they joined Climate KIC, Europe’s largest funded accelerator focused on climate innovation. The team started collaborating with chemists and chemical engineers and soon started working on a scalable manufacturing technology.
NOTPLA, the material developed by Skipping Rocks Lab has expanded beyond just Ooho, and in 2019 the startup decided to give it a name and became NOTPLA.
The Solution: NOTPLA
Notpla is a revolutionary material made from seaweed and plants that biodegrades in weeks, naturally.
Seaweed is one of the most sustainable materials on the planet. Locally sourced from environmentally conscious suppliers, it grows fast, up to one meter a day, and doesn’t compete with food crops for land. Not only that but Seaweed participates in restoring marine ecosystems, sequesters CO2 and actively contributes to de-acidifying our oceans.
50% of plastic packaging is used once and thrown away. Unlike PLA, Notpla biodegrades naturally in 4-6 weeks, is home compostable and doesn’t contaminate PET recycling as it contains no micro-plastics. With an end-of-life that replicates that of fruit peel, Notpla eliminates waste that lingers for centuries.
Ooho, the company’s first creation is a flexible packaging for beverages and sauces made entirely from Notpla and therefore biodegrades in 4-6 weeks, or you can just eat it, making it ideal for on-the-go consumption.
It’s ideal for Sporting events, replacing plastic cups and bottles and was even tested at the Virgin Money London Marathon with Lucozade giving runners a quick burst of hydration on the go.
Alternatively, Oohos are a fun way to drink juices, waters or even alcohol cocktails at festivals or private events without using plastic. Glenlivet for example was the first spirit brand to team up with the sustainable packaging start up to create whiskey capsules.
Sachets and Takeaway boxes
“The Plastic Sachet, the ultimate symbol of our grab and go, convenience-addicted lifestyle.”
The start up’s current focus is tackling the mass waste generated by the takeaway and fast food industries.
With sauce pots and sachets being habitually used in most takeaway and fast-food establishments with very little alternatives, Notpla’s sauce sachets are a seamless way to reduce plastic. With the same biodegradable qualities as the Ooho, they range from 10-60mL, are heat and acid resistant, microwave-friendly, vegan and are totally edible with no flavouring so as not to affect the flavour of the sauce inside. Of course, if eating the packaging isn’t for you then they can also be composted with the rest of your food-waste.
To accompany the Sachets are a range of water and grease proof cardboard takeaway boxes.
A typical cardboard takeaway box is coated with synthetic materials that are added directly into the pulp, making it impossible to decompose. However, by replacing it with Notpla coating the boxes are 100% compostable, with less than a 6-week degrading period and can even be re-pulped.
These leak-proof kraft boxes are versatile and reliable no matter the type of cuisine and are great boxes to eat directly from and can be used in the microwave.
Just Eat successfully tested the Notpla box with three restaurant partners in London, which prevented about 3,600 plastic boxes from entering the waste stream.
Their aim is to provide the machines used to make the packaging to the organisers themselves: “At the heart of our solution is a local manufacturing machine that produces Oohos on-site in the range of 20-150mL per sachet, depending on the application. Our primary business model is to lease this machine and sell cartridges of materials to co-packers and event organisers, enabling them to produce and sell fresh Oohos containing drinks or sauces as desired."
The Skipping Rocks Lab’s hunt for solutions to the most wasteful single use plastics doesn’t stop at fast food. They’re currently in the process of developing a range of other products, including heat sealable films; from wrappers to packets of powders and dry food, Nets used for most fruits and veg such as oranges garlic and sachets for non-food products such as screws, nails and hardware.
“Until now, plastic was the go-to material for these inexpensive SUP. Not for long…”
To find out more about Notpla, visit:
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