Student uses fish skin and red algae to create sustainable and fully biodegradable plastic

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As plastic pollution is fast becoming one of the world’s major problems, one innovative student from the University of Sussex creates a solution that could put a stop to it.

23-year-old Lucy Hughes who is currently studying at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom is inspired by the sea when she came up with 100 percent biodegradable material called Marinatex.

Created from fish scales, fish skin, and red algae, Marinatex is a bioplastic that has a huge potential to replace conventional plastic bags that are widely used at the moment.

Credit: LadBible

Marinatex is designed to act as an environmentally friendly alternative to the plastic film used in food packaging like sandwich boxes.

Unlike typical plastic, this biodegradable material can be decomposed within just a month and can also be disposed of through ordinary food waste collections.

Credit: LadBible

“With Marinatex, we are transforming a waste stream into the main component of a new product. By doing so, we have created a consistent, transparent and ‘plastic-like’ material with a more planet-friendly and product appropriate lifecycle for packaging,” Lucy said.

The creative idea came to her mind when she visited Newhaven-based sustainable fishing company MCB Seafoods Ltd. It was during the visit that she identified the potential in the first-hand organic waste from the fishing industry.

According to Lucy, she knew the organic waste could provide a reliable and durable material when combined with a biopolymer such as red algae. 

Credit: LadBible

Apart from being fully biodegradable, Marinatex is also cheaper to produce and does not require any new recycling disposal system. Organic waste from just one Atlantic salmon could be used to produce 1,400 Marinatex bags!

It is also durable to be used as an alternative to plastic and does not leach toxins into the soil when it is decomposed. 

Credit: LadBible

The newly-develop material was originally developed as part of Lucy’s undergraduate project but she is optimistic that Marinatex has a huge potential and can be introduced to the mass market in the second half of 2020.

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