Marine bioplastic scoops James Dyson award

Written by: Maddie Ballard | Published:
MarinTex inventor Lucy Hughes

A new form of bioplastic made of fish offcuts has won this year’s UK national James Dyson Award.

MarinTex is made of locally sourced red algae coupled with organic fish waste - mostly fish skins and scales - ordinarily destined for landfill or incineration. It was created by 23-year-old Lucy Hughes from the University of Sussex.

The odourless material is translucent and flexible, making it an ideal alternative to single-use packaging, but it is also stronger, safer, and much more sustainable than plastic.

It requires little energy and temperatures under 100 degrees to produce. It biodegrades after four to six weeks, is suitable for home composting, and does not leach toxins.

MarinaTex can be used as an alternative to plastic bags or package food products with a shorter life-span, such as sandwiches or pastries.

According to Hughes, one Atlantic cod could generate enough organic waste to make 1,400 bags of MarinaTex - so production is truly a circular affair.

As winner, Hughes will receive £2,000 and move on to the international round of the competition for a chance to win £30,000. She said she will use her award money for further research into MarinaTex’s possibilities, with the ultimate aim of commercialising the bioplastic sustainably.

She said: “Plastic is an amazing material but we’re too reliant on it as designers and engineers. It makes no sense to me that we’re using plastic, an incredibly durable material, for products that have a life-cycle of less than a day.

“For me, MarinaTex represents a real commitment to innovating plastic use and incorporating sustainable, local, and circular values into product design.

“As engineers, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to designing to form and function, but rather form, function, and footprint.”

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