Plastic, particularly single use plastic, is one of the scourges of modern life and an environmental disaster. So, it's wonderful news that a 23 year old British design graduate has invented a biodegradable material made from fish waste that could one day replace plastic in packaging.
Lucy Hughes (pictured) used fish offcuts to develop a strong, flexible and translucent material called MarinaTex, which looks and feels like plastic but can be disposed of as compostable food waste.
In the UK alone, around 490,000 tonnes of fish waste is produced by the fish processing industry every year. It is of low commercial value and ends up in landfill or incineration. However, through her research, Hughes found that she could create a substitute for plastic by using red algae to bind proteins from fish skins and scales into translucent sheets.
A single Atlantic cod could generate the organic waste needed for 1,400 bags of MarinaTex, she says. “It makes no sense to me that we’re using plastic, an incredibly durable material, for products that may have a life cycle of less than a day.”
Hughes recently won the international James Dyson award for design engineers. Dyson, an inventor and entrepreneur, says: “MarinaTex solves two problems: the ubiquity of single-use plastic and fish waste. I hope it becomes part of a global answer to the abundance of single-use plastic waste.”