Plastic packaging is everywhere! And while it has its benefits (namely, its ability to hold materials heavier than its own weight—affordably), it creates many challenges in sustainability. Plastics, as opposed to say corrugated fiberboard or aluminum, isn’t as cost-effective to recycle in part because there are many different plastic chemical compositions.
Add in the fact that it takes around 450 years for the average plastic bottle to decompose, and you have some very real challenges to the long-term viability plastic packaging. In short, the packaging industry still heavily relies on it, but would gladly change if something better came along.
“I’ve always been impressed at the packaging industry’s ability to quickly adapt to new technology,” says Ernest’s Director of Design Solutions, Mike Martinez. “Typically, you see quick adoption of a better way to do something, so the only barrier to entry is just having a really good idea that works.”
Well, Mike. How about this for an idea? Seaweed.
No, we aren’t making this up. A Japanese design company called AMAM has found early success with using agar as a plastic substitute. Here’s what you need to know about agar, other than it sounds like some medieval barbarian (Agar the Destroyer!): It’s gelatinous, it’s moldable, it’s biodegradable and it’s found readily in red marine algae.
And it doesn’t look like seaweed (Source)
Kosuke Araki, one of the AMAM designers in charge of this project, told GOOD magazine
“We were attracted to the materiality of agar—the delicacy in its texture and beauty in its appearance—at a local supermarket … Relatively soon after that, we thought its delicate and light structure would be suitable for cushioning material.”
And with plastic making its way into the oceans at an alarming rate, the idea of a stray strand of seaweed hitting the seas doesn’t sound like a bad alternative.
Seaweed plastics aren’t yet ready for market, but designers, engineers and biologists around the world are busy finding the next generation of packaging materials. Rest assured we’re Ernestly keeping our eyes all over it.
Going green is serious business. Our custom packaging design solutions put sustainability at the forefront. And when the time comes to implement agar or any other proven material into our designs, you can rest assured we will be bringing that option to our customers. It’s what we do and how we keep packaging moving forward.
Contact Ernest Packaging Solutions today to learn more about our custom packaging solutions, which always emphasize sustainability. We can help you save the planet while standing out on the shelves.