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Brief Published: 26 May 2016

Biodegradable Algae Packaging

Sustainable algae packaging by AMAM

Japanese design collective AMAM has created a zero-waste packaging concept made from agar – a jelly-like substance extracted from marine algae, which is traditionally used in food and confectionery in Japan.

Unlike plastics, agar is a sustainable and 100% biodegradable raw material. The project, which explores agar as a fully biodegradable alternative to synthetic materials, recently took the Lexus Design Award Grand Prix for emerging designers at Milan Design Week 2016.

Agar can be sourced from any algae, but the AMAM team specifically use red algae, as it can be easily grown and reproduced. It is boiled and then dehydrated to create the resultant jelly. Experiments show that alternative treatments result in different material forms – for instance, freeze-drying creates a lightweight and feathery packaging material, while compressing creates a stiff translucent film. The material can also be moulded.

Sustainable packaging provides an opportunity for savvy brands to future-proof their businesses amid growing environmental concerns. See further solutions in Packaging Futures 2016/17: Sustainability.

For more on dissolvable and even edible packaging, see Food & Materials: New Edible Forms and Shape-Shifting Packaging. Read more about the potential of undeveloped natural and sustainable materials in Smart Nature.