This Student Made a Bioplastic from Fish Skin & It Won Her the James Dyson Award

Indeed, single use plastics is destroying our oceans and killing our marine life and filling up our landfills; however, this student from the UK may have come up with a solution.

She created a bioplastic from fish waste and algae and won the James Dyson Award for it.

Lucy Hughes made MarinaTex as a clearer plastic-like material which is entirely biodegradable.

What Kind of Material Is MarinaTex?

The material is a flexible and clear bioplastic which is produced in sheets. Its goal is to be a sustainable alternative to single use plastic, including food packaging and plastic bags.

Despite looking very similar to conventional plastic, this one is made from agar.

It’s a naturally-occurring substance present in red algae, as well as fish skin and scales as byproducts from the fishing industry.

The fish skin is known to contain sturdy, yet flexible proteins whereas the role of the agar is to bind everything together and form a bioplastic that’s entirely biodegradable.

Not the First Biodegradable Packaging?

This isn’t the first biodegradable packaging made from all-natural materials.

In 2019, the UK company Skipping Rocks Labs served energy drinks to runners at the London Marathon in edible drinks made from seaweed.

This London-based startup is led by graduates from the Royal College of Art, Rodrigo Gonzalez and Pierre Paslier.

More than 30,000 edible drink capsules were given to runners as a way to lower plastic waste.

This was the largest ever trial of the Ooho capsules-biodegradable pods which can be filled with water or other drinks.

One can eat the entire pod or bite into it and release the liquid inside.

Made from seaweed, the wrapping will naturally degrade in a period of 4 to 6 weeks, approximately in the same time as a piece of fruit does.

Who’s Lucy Hughes?

MarinaTex is the brainchild of the 24-year-old Lucy Hughes, a student at Sussex University.

She created the material as part of the design course of her final year before she won a top prize of $35,000 as part of the James Dyson Award.

Even though she refined the formula on the stove in her student apartment, she’s hopeful that she’ll be able to move up her invention and make it commercially available.

Hughes notes that we’ve become over-reliant to plastic which is an amazing material; however, it makes no sense to her that we use it for products which have a less-than-a-day life cycle.




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