This year’s James Dyson Award had numerous exciting submissions, but one winner got £30,000 (and £5,000 for their university).
The winning entry is called MarinaTex, and was submitted by Lucy Hughes. This is a compostable material that is meant to be used instead of all types of plastics.
MarinaTex is made out of common waste that is produced by the fishing industry, and also aquatic algae. The material is translucent, flexible, and stronger than LDPE (low-density polyethylene) at the same thickness, so from a practical perspective, it’s even better.
Plastic waste is still accumulating in the ocean, although everyone agrees that we have to address the problem immediately. The lack of sustainable and feasible alternatives is really what limits the conversations to wishful thinking, as no one has to propose a real alternative to plastic. MarinaTex not only addresses this crucial problem, but it also takes care of fish industry wastes, which would otherwise have to receive special handling and management.
Contrary to conventional plastics, MarinaTex only needs a maximum of six weeks to biodegrade completely. To make things even better, it doesn’t require complex machinery or processes to be created, and the whole production takes place without exceeding 100 degrees Celsius. Finally, it feels like plastic to the hand, so most people won’t even notice that it’s something unusual.
When compared to other alternatives such as PLA bioplastics, MarinaTex is still superior. The reason is that it isn’t releasing any toxic chemicals into the environment when decomposing, and it doesn’t require decontamination protection measures on special facilities.
After the award, creator Lucy Hughes will look for funding, research into mass manufacturing, and develop a business plan.