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Can bottles made out of gelled seaweed extract one day replace plastic?


Plastic bottles

(NaturalNews) Plastic water bottles may seem the perfect, convenient way to keep you hydrated on the go. Unfortunately, many of us do not realize that these bottles are only used once, and then take over a thousand years to degrade.

In the U.S, only 31 percent of all plastic water bottles are recycled, and more than 2 million tons of plastic containers have still ended up in landfills. It is time we start looking in different, environment-friendly directions to reduce our ever-growing plastic addiction.

Thinking about this sparked the creativity of a 32-year-old product design student at the Iceland Academy of the Arts, Ari Jonsson, who may have found just the thing that could reform the plastic industry in the coming years.

"I read that 50 per cent of plastic is used once and then thrown away so I feel there is an urgent need to find ways to replace some of the unreal amount of plastic we make, use and throw away each day," Jonsson told Dezeen. "Why are we using materials that take hundreds of years to break down in nature to drink from once and then throw away?"

An edible seaweed bottle that naturally stays cool

In his quest to try and find new ways to use materials in a more sustainable way, Jonsson has created an all-natural water bottle made from agar – a powder derived from red algae – and water.

When these two materials are mixed in the right proportions, they form a jelly-like substance that can be molded into a bottle. As long as the bottle is full of water, it will keep its shape. However, according to Jonsson, the real magic happens when the bottle is emptied. "It becomes rotten. ... It will go bad like other foods."

When left empty in the open air, it will take about a week for it to shrink, and can then sustainably decompose in the soil. How long this process will take has not been determined yet, but it is already clear that it will not take hundreds of thousands of years like its plastic counterparts.

While the bottle is 100 percent natural, and the water inside is safe to drink, Jonsson notes that after a while the bottle may release some of its flavors into the water – which is absolutely fine if you don't mind the algae taste.

And if you do fancy its taste, feel free to have a bite out of the bottle, as the material is 100 percent edible too – although the taste is a little odd, and may not appeal to the taste buds of many people.

"It's hard to describe," he says. "I could say it's like seaweed jello but I don't think many people have tasted something like that."

Besides being 100 percent safe and biodegradable, the bottle also has the ability to keep the water naturally cool, even in hot weather.

The big challenge

Jonsson's algae water bottle design was recently presented at the DesignMarch 2016 festival in Reykjavik, Iceland. However, there are no current plans to make the bottle commercially available, as there are still a few practical challenges to tackle.

"This project is still only in the beginning stages and there are so many things that have to be looked at closely," Jonsson says. "One big challenge to look at is how the bottles tear up easily. They are like paper in that sense that if it gets a little cut it will keep ripping apart rather easily."

While it is clear that we need to find a better and sustainable alternative to plastic bottles, we aren't quite there yet, but it is a start.

"I can't claim that this is the perfect solution for our problem with plastic bottles," said Jonsson, "but it's a start and an idea that hopefully helps us to look at new ways to solve the problem. ... Switching to reusable bottles is also great, but that will have its pros and cons, just like my project. The more ways we can tackle this issue the better."

Sources for this article include:

FastCoexist.com

Dezeen.com

TakePart.com

Science.NaturalNews.com

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