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Seaweed packaging being trialled as alternative to plastic

Seaweed packaging being trialled as alternative to plastic

BUSINESS ·

A Spanish company from Cadiz wants to turn the seaweed that coastal municipalities send to landfill into an environmentally friendly packaging product

Raquel C. Pico

Friday, 17 March 2023

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A couple of entrepreneurs with Futuralga, a spin-off company born at the University of Cadiz (UCA), are converting wave-dumped seaweed into packing for local produce. Behind the idea are Víctor Manuel Pérez and Sofía Tristancho, who as divers are aware of the amount of plastic in the sea.

The pair are also aware of the amount of seaweed that needs to be cleared from beaches in Cadiz. This can be huge. For example, 500 tonnes of an invasive seaweed that was washed up on the Poniente beach in La Línea de la Concepción had to be cleared in a two-month period.

Professor Luis López, the main researcher in charge of the UCA project, said invasive and other washed up seaweeds end up in landfill and costs coastal municipalities between 50 and 80 euros per tonne to dispose of.

"The first milestone has been reached earlier than expected," López said explaining that trays which can hold fruit have been created.

Now, they have to test the resistance of the product and comply with the regulations for food packaging. Their target date is April 2024, when the packaging should be a reality and go from being a prototype to being ready to go into production.

Those responsible for the project are working on the potential this will have for the agricultural sector in the area. "We are focusing the product on agriculture," López said. He added that the sector is already looking for more sustainable packaging.

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