Fish Scale Plastic

How often do you use single-use cling wrap-style plastic? Do you think twice about it? What if there was an alternative?

The winner of the 2019 James Dyson Award* is a biodegradable plastic-like material called MarinaTex. It was invented by Lucy Hughes, a recent graduate of the product design school at the University of Sussex, U.K. The ingredients: Fish scales, fish skin and algae.

For her final school project, Hughes worked on finding uses for waste from the fishing industry. She discovered that fish skins and scales, combined with organic binder made from red algae, can make a strong, translucent film. It biodegrades in 4 – 6 weeks in a home composter, with no toxic waste. She made the first prototype in her kitchen. MarinaTex can be produced at about 212° F (100° C). Compare many petroleum-based plastics, which require temperatures around 300° F (150° C)).

Sourcing materials shouldn’t be difficult. One Atlantic cod produces enough waste for 1400 MarinaTex bags.

Hughes is working to secure grants to start developing and selling MarinaTex large scale.

*“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.”

Featured Image Credit: Benson Kua

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