R&D and Innovations Seaweed and Algae US

Will US Replace France as the Blue Bioplastic Leader?

BETO, the US Energy Department’s Bioenergy Technologies Office will invest $80 million in 36 advanced bioeconomy projects, among which blue bioplastics.

BETO will invest $2 million in algae plastic research. This project will be managed by the University of California – San Diego, in the school’s Division of Biological Sciences.

The ultimate goal is to manufacture polyurethane from algae oil. The bio-chemicals also have to be cost competitive with fossil-based plastic and compatible for industrial-scale production.

The team has previously done work on biodegradable flip-flops and algae-based surfboards.

UC San Diego research team member Michael Burkart said:

“Our strategy is to go from renewable algae feedstocks all the way to products that people actually want to buy. The surfboards were a big success, and we are excited to see how people like the flip-flops. Our goal is to get to 100 percent renewability and biodegradability. I believe that we can make an impact.”

The UC San Diego project will also receive resources from the Energy Department’s Agile BioFoundry, which covers Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, as well as the Georgia Institute of Technology.


  • Bioplastics made from seaweed and algae is called blue bioplastics.
  • UK, Japan and US governments are investing in bio-based bioplastics (see article hereunder).
  • France has a small advance in blue bioplastics as they have an industrial blue microcosmos in Bretagne. They used algae for other purposes in the past and blue bioplastics seemed to be a logic option for the survival of the microcosmos.
  • France’s advantage will melt like snow in the sun, especially when they will have to compete against the Americans. France is an old school country that hasn’t changed in the last 50 years.