Startups like Origin by Ocean are taking a fresh look at blue-green algae as well as seaweeds including sargassum, bladderwrack, and kelp — using them as raw material to create bio-based chemicals for use in industrial bioplastics and other products. Through its own proprietary process, Origin by Ocean isolates sodium alginate, a chemical found in algae, for use in an alternative to plastic packaging. The fibers and other biomass left over after the chemical extraction is also used in bioplastics.
Cooking oil blends into your new computer
Actual food waste is also being transformed into plastic and incorporated into new products, including some of HP’s newest PCs. This year HP débuted its new HP 14 inch Laptop PC - Eco Edition and HP 24-inch and 27-inch All-in-One PCs, showcasing a host of new features for hybrid workers in hardware sourced, in part, from bio-circular content such as used cooking oil and coffee grounds to create a speckled finish.
The alternative materials HP taps to produce new sources of plastic for PCs — whether from cooking oil, ocean-bound plastic, or recycled printer cartridges — need to solve real problems the world is facing, says Ajay Gupta, director of sustainability for HP’s Personal Systems business.
While the amount of plastic, percentage-wise, in each device may be modest, the company has the benefit of scale. “We ship so many products that when we start using something like cooking oil, the industry has to react by building a supply chain and a value chain,” he explains. “It’s a virtuous cycle that creates a market for waste material.”
Ghost gear goes from ocean to automobiles
More than 100 million pounds of plastic from industrial fishing — known as “ghost gear” — stays in the ocean each year, clogging harbors while threatening marine wildlife and fishing businesses alike. Fishing nets, in particular, are a pernicious form of ocean pollution, since they quickly become stretched out or damaged from each catch and are typically only used once. Discarded nets, lines, and ropes now make up about 46% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, according to World Wildlife Fund.
Danish cleantech company Plastix collects lost or abandoned fishing nets, trawls, and ropes from the ocean and repurposes them into pellets that can be used to create new plastic materials, including parts for BMW’s forthcoming series of electric vehicles.