MarinaTex will be an appellation you’ll hear a lot about in the next decade! This is only the fish-based bioplastic alternative created by UK designer Lucy Hughes, which has been awarded this year’s international James Dyson Award.
The 23-year-old British woman has invented a product she hopes will one day replace single-use plastic. This new “bioplastic” is made by combining fishing waste and algae. It could be used to replace plastic bags or containers that people use once and throw away.
MarinaTex’s development process consisted of over 100 prototype tests. “I did it on the kitchen stove of my student flat,” says Hughes. “I self-taught myself the chemistry needed to create such material and that was a challenging process of trial and error.”
The resulting material combines fishing by-products that would otherwise make up part of the 172,000 tonnes of waste that end up in landfills each year. Hughes says she found potential “locked up” in fish scales and skins, which are naturally flexible and have strength-enabling proteins.
Besides utilising materials that would otherwise be thrown away, the production process itself uses little energy and doesn’t require hot temperatures. One single Atlantic codfish produces enough waste for 1,400 MarinaTex bags. Which is quite incredible!
Hughes enhances: “The end goal is to bring the material to market and offer it as a viable alternative to single-use plastic films,” she says.
“That said, this is just one potential usage of the material, and I look forward to undertaking more research and development to see how else the product could be employed.
“I hope it will shine a light on the importance of circular principles in the design phase and will leverage the importance of taking form, function, and footprint into account.”