An alternative to single-use plastic that is made from organic fish waste ordinarily destined for landfill or incineration has won the 2019 international James Dyson Award.
MarinaTex was created by Lucy Hughes from the University of Sussex (UK) and is a bioplastic made of organic fish waste ordinarily destined for landfill or incineration and locally sourced red algae.
The aim of the material is to help solve the problem of single-use plastic by harnessing organic waste from the fish processing industry to create a unique plastic alternative.
MarinaTex is a translucent and flexible sheet material, making it an ideal alternative material for single-use packaging.
MarinaTex elegantly solves two problems: the ubiquity of single-use plastic and fish waste
While it may look and feel like plastic, its similarities end there. Using a unique formula of red algae to bind the proteins extracted from fish waste, MarinaTex has strong overlapping bonds giving it strength and flexibility.
The material is relatively resource-light, requiring little energy to produce. It biodegrades after four to six weeks, is suitable for home composting and does not leach toxins, removing the need for its own national waste management infrastructure.
As MarinaTex uses byproducts from the fishing industry, it also helps to close the loop of an existing waste stream for a more circular product lifespan.
According to Lucy, one Atlantic cod could generate as much organic waste needed to make 1,400 bags of MarinaTex.
Sir James Dyson, Founder, said: “The James Dyson Award received some thought-provoking ideas this year – and more female entrants than ever – making the judging very difficult.
“Ultimately, we decided to pick the idea the world could least do without. MarinaTex elegantly solves two problems: the ubiquity of single-use plastic and fish waste.”
As international winner, Lucy will receive £30,000. Lucy aims to commercialise her invention sustainably, using her award money for further research into how MarinaTex can become a global answer to the abundance of plastic waste while still harnessing local solutions.
Lucy said: “I’m so delighted that MarinaTex has been recognised by the James Dyson Award. The invention is still in its infancy and I never thought it would make it to this stage, so it’s really encouraging to have the potential of the material acknowledged by such a prestigious award.
“I’m excited to now have the chance to undertake further research and development to explore all of the possible uses of MarinaTex, taking into account form, function and footprint.”
The James Dyson Award is an international design award that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers.
It’s open to current and recent design engineering students, and is run by the James Dyson Foundation, James Dyson’s charitable trust, as part of its mission to get young people excited about design engineering.