ACCORDING to the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup report from 2017, plastic drink bottles were the second most common item collected by volunteers around the world. More than 1.5 million pieces were collected from cleanups conducted along beaches, during dives and from boats.
According to a report from CNN, the London Marathon was able to replace thousands of plastic bottles with pouches of seaweed filled with sports drink. Runners are normally given the drink in a plastic drink bottle at the 23rd mile of the run. This year, the marathon organizers worked with a London based startup laboratory called Skipping Rocks Lab. The lab designed and created Ooho, a small pouch made of the building blocks of seaweed. This pouch is clear, tasteless and can even be eaten. Best of all, it can also be composted in less than six weeks.
In the near future, plastic may be truly biodegradable or compostable. The typical oxo-biodegradable plastics that we commonly see are not really eco-friendly. These are only biodegradable at specific temperatures and would only break up into microplastics (not truly biodegrade) if it were placed in a landfill or left in the environment.
Other companies are looking into replacing oil-based plastic items with compostable versions. The Wyss Institute from Harvard University has been developing “shrilk”, which is a clear plastic created form a mixture of chitosan, made from shrimp shells, and a silk protein from insects. Items, such as bowls and cups, can also be made from fungus. The mycelium acts as the roots of the fungus and can be shaped and baked into a durable and waterproof material. Research into products, such as Ooho, that can replace single use plastic is vital for preventing pollution like millions of plastic drink bottles that are collected by coastal cleanups every year.