Waste due to excess packaging of the products we buy is a real problem. It is one that most of us are conscious of and more and more businesses are making efforts toward eco-friendly packaging. There is increased use of cardboard, which is recyclable. Most of us try to reduce our waste through recycling. But as we buy more things online and have a growing variety of things delivered to our homes, it is a struggle to receive the things we order in good condition and not end up with piles of packaging materials.
Plastic packaging is the poster child of a problem substance. Enormous quantities of it end up in the world’s oceans. But this year, the prestigious Lexus Design Award was won with a new packaging material called Agar Plasticity.
The material is a mold-able plastic-like material made from agar, a jelly-like substance found in many kinds of marine algae. The winning team used red seaweed as the source of the agar and that is an abundant and easily collected material. Not only is Agar Plasticity biodegradable and sustainable, it also dissolves in boiling water leaving no residue. Any packaging made from Agar Plasticity would be completely environmentally friendly.
The team of Japanese designers believes that agar-based materials can completely replace plastic products such as shopping bags, packing materials, and more. Whereas ordinary plastic cannot be recycled indefinitely and only decomposes over very long timespan, the new material would just dissolve away.
It would be wonderfully fitting if we could solve the problem of oceans full of non-degrading plastic junk by replacing the source of the material with an abundant substance taken from the ocean.
The Future of Packaging is Under the Sea
Photo, posted September 3, 2012, courtesy of Elaine via Flickr.
‘Packaging from the Sea’ from Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.