Designer creates sustainable algae-based alternative for plastic packaging

Packaging is fundamental when it comes to protecting our products, ensuring our high standards of quality, and avoiding food waste. But, as we all know by now, it also comes at a great cost to the environment as most food packaging is only used once. If we want to be able to have packaging that can be used and thrown away, we need an alternative to plastic that can be broken down easily without polluting the planet. With that in mind, designer Margarita Talep has developed a new type of algae-based packaging that can take the place of plastic. Considering the short lifecycle of most packaging, Talep wanted to create a material that would stand up to the task of holding food and other products but break down quickly once it hit the waste stream. To achieve that, the designer used agar, a gel-like substance sourced from seaweed that is commonly used as a food thickener. By heating the agar to create a polymer and natural dyes for color, Talep managed to create a firm material that can be molded into shapes, such as the trays that a package of donuts sits in. With the overarching aim of replacing single-use packaging, the algae-based alternative can break down naturally within the course of a couple of months.

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