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Product design graduate Lucy Hughes has developed a viable plastic packaging alternative from fish waste. It could replace the many unnecessary flexible packaging forms we use on a daily basis!

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.theguardian.com

Organic fish waste usually ends up in landfills! Here a UK graduate designer has developed packaging with the potential to reduce plastic that we use everyday!



Lucy Hughes has received a James Dyson design award for her innovation. A graduate of product design at the University of Sussex she decided to tackle the problem of harmful single use plastics and inefficient waste processing by utilizing fish off cuts to create a viable and environmentally friendly plastic packaging alternative. 


The solution is a both biodegradable and compostable material names MarinaTex. It can decompose in soil in under 6 weeks meaning it can be easily disposed of in everyday household waste. 


A native of Twickenham in London, Hughes used red algae in order to bind proteins that were extracted from the fishes scales and skin. This creates an overlapping cross section that binds into a translucent and highly flexible form. 


In fact to touch it feels very much like plastic!


First impressions and initial tests have revealed that the MarinaTex is stronger, safer and of course much more eco friendly than plastic options. 


It is estimated that we in the UK go through a staggering 5 million tonnes of plastic each year. About half of this is made up of packaging. 


Even more alarming is the fact that only 51% of councils and local authorities in England have separate food waste collections. For those recycling schemes that are in place they are largely unsuitable for the waste treatment centers and current infrastructure in general. 


Contrast this with fish waste which is estimated at 492,020 tonnes per year. It can be considered a huge waste as at present it has no commercial value!


Off cuts including blood, crustacean, skin, scales and shellfish skeletons are often dumped in landfills or sometimes they find their way to an incinerator. 


Research conducted by Hughes found that skin and scales held the most potential for a viable flexible packaging alternative.


Mainly due to their flexibility and strength promoting protein complexes!


To put this in perspective just one atlantic cod could generate the organic waste needed for over 1500 flexible pouches of MarinaTex.


Hughes comments that she thinks plastic is an amazing material but that both designers and engineers have become far too reliant on it for development. 


Interestingly she thinks that it a major waste when we use plastic in food packaging that have life spans of less than a day!