This is the latest in a regular series exploring early-stage technologies and scientific developments that could play a role in corporate solutions to climate change.
Many Westerners don’t include seaweed in their regular greens consumption unless they’re sushi enthusiasts, but more than 21 species of the high-protein stuff are used in Japan (and in other Asian cuisines) for everyday recipes, some of which easily can be traced back to the eighth century.
So it’s hardly surprising that one entrepreneur behind the seaweed packaging being tested by Indonesian company Evoware is biotech expert Noryawati Mulyno.
The company, one of six recently recognized at the culmination of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Design Challenge for “new plastics,” is testing a variety of packaging applications for bioplastics made from seaweed farmed in Indonesia waters.
“Our mission is to decrease the use of plastic, especially in packaging,” said Edwin Aldrin Tan, Evoware co-founder and the Jakarta-based organization’s business development and financial advisor. “At the same time, we’d like to increase the seaweed livelihood in our country.”
Some of the wraps, such as those being piloted for power protein bars, burgers and waffles, are edible. Others, such as the ones for such dry foods as tea or instant noodles or cereal, are meant to dissolve quickly when liquid is introduced. Still others, notably those used for soaps or sanitary napkin packaging, will biodegrade over time. “We are exploring as many applications as possible,” he said.
Tan, along with his co-founder David Christian, started experimenting with seaweed about two years ago, with the mission of replacing single-use cups. The result was Ello Jello, an edible cup that the company began commercializing in April 2016 and selling “bazaar to bazaar” to educate the marketplace about alternative approaches to disposable items.