Is seaweed packaging the solution to the plastic problem in the world? Potentially yes.
In a video, the unbiased german-based media organization, DW Made by Minds shows how packaging made from algae is already a reality and how researchers and scientists in Indonesia and Norway are exploring the plant’s full potential.
Indonesia and China are amongst the biggest polluters apart from the food and packaging sectors. 3.2 million tons of that ends up in the ocean and the Indonesian government has pledged to reduce this by 70% by 2025. Traditional waste disposal measures however do not go far enough and pioneering ideas are needed.
Indonesian Scientist Nory Mulyono has found the solution in the ocean and she has been working on this concept for 10 years of turning seaweed into an alternative plastic packaging. She is head of the Food Technology Department at the Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia and also co-founder and chief of research and development at Evoware. The company’s packaging is made from red algae and it can last for up to two years. It’s even edible. More than 2000 companies are already testing the innovation and apart from the food and packaging sectors, it’s also used in the cosmetic and textile industry. Seaweed could even serve as fuel.
But it is not only in Indonesia that seaweed is being explored as a packaging alternative. People in Europe are also recognizing the algae’s full potential. It grows quickly, does not need agricultural land to be produced and there are 22.000 types of algae worldwide.
In Norway, up to 100 tons of brown algae are harvested every year. So far it’s been marketed as a foodstuff but further possible uses of algae are also being explored. In Trondheim, researchers are cultivating algae seedlings and examining whether seaweed might have other environmental uses.
The algae alternative to plastic is not only an innovative idea, it is also creating jobs for ritual coastal farmers in Indonesia. The country holds about 200.000 seaweed farmers and entire families get involved. Nory Mulyono works together with 2000 of them and without middlemen, she can pay better wages.
For her, the most important thing and where her passion comes from is to support these farmers in ritual coastal areas who do not have access to fulfill their basic needs. Some of them have even been victims of human trafficking she explains so it is very important and urgent to help them to improve their livelihood. Nory Mulyono will soon need another 1000 suppliers as the demand for her packaging is growing.