Seaweed-derived alternative plastic
Ocean plastics have now become a global issue.
Because they cannot decompose in natural environments, plastics continue to float on the ocean, are broken down into small pieces (only a few millimeters each) called micro-plastics, and eventually find their way into our bodies through seafood that we eat.
In Indonesia, an environmentally friendly packaging material that may hold the key to solving this problem has been developed. The country actually dumps the second-largest amount of plastics into the ocean in the world (after China). 90% of their plastic waste is said to flow into the ocean, 70% of which are food and beverage packages.
Given this situation,Evoware, an Indonesian company, has developed a seaweed-derived packaging material that can replace existing plastic packaging.
The Seaweed-Based Packaging is a paper-like new material 100% made of seaweed, printable and heat-sealable. As it is soluble in hot water, it could be used in instant noodle condiment sachets, or in edible wrapping paper for hamburgers, etc.
You don’t like the idea of eating a food wrapper with your food? Don’t worry. They say it is almost tasteless and odorless, and rich in dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals; it is good for you. Not only that, it is gluten-free and holds HACCP-based Halal certification. It meets conditions for use in various environments world-wide. Needless to say, it can also be used to package non-food items, and does not create waste even if dumped as it decomposes into fertilizer in the soil.
The seaweed used to make the package material can be harvested in 45-day cycles year-round, which means resources can be secured faster and more easily compared to other bio-materials. For every hectare of ocean space, 40 tons of dried seaweed can be produced every year. As it grows, the seaweed also absorbs 20.7 tons of greenhouse gases, helping to improve the environment. Indonesian seaweed farmers are the poorest of the poor; even though they produce large amounts of seaweed, they cannot find demand for it. Evoware believes that as demand for seaweed as a wrapping paper ingredient increases, it can protect seaweed farmers through increased income and job creation. In other words, of the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), “no poverty,” “responsible consumption and production,” and “conserve and sustainably use the oceans” are addressed.
Measures to reduce plastic waste are also gaining momentum in everyday life in Japan, including eliminating the use of straws and charging for single-use plastic bags. It will surely be possible to build a sustainable society as each of us raises our awareness of the challenges before us and begins to tackle them.