This article was published on voxy.co.nz
A fisherman from Nelson who has spent the last five years working in the ocean has witnessed first-hand how widespread New Zealand’s plastic problem is. Mohi Healey consistently finds plastic rubbish at sea even in remote parts of Kiwi waters. For the last few years, he’s been thinking that there has got to be a better solution.Now, thanks to Kiwi beer brand DB Export, Mohi is getting the chance to work on finding that solution after winning a competition that will see him get $10,000 cash and $30,000 dedicated to investigate turning spent grain into biodegradable cups for events.
Mohi says he’s motivated to find a solution by the connection he has with the sea. “Not only do I work on the ocean, but all my hobbies involve the sea. I spend my time off out on the water boating, fishing, spearfishing and free diving. And sadly, even when working in the farthest reaches of the ocean, all too commonly we pull up hauls of fish intertwined with plastic rubbish. It makes me really sad,” he says.
“My interest in finding biodegradable solutions started when I read that plastic in the ocean would outweigh fish by the year 2050. This shocked me and I felt very strongly that I needed to do my part to help. I discovered that it was possible to use grains to create PHA plastic (bio-based plastic) which is 100% biodegradable, marine degradable and digestible – and am honored to get the chance to work on prototyping a solution that might be able to help,” says Mohi.
The ‘Save the Entire World’ competition Mohi won is an initiative run by local beer brand DB Export, who over the past few years has pioneered a number of initiatives to bring innovative solutions to environmental challenges.Tony Wheeler from DB Export says, “DB Export is committed to acting sustainably, and over the last three years has created two incredible, world-class initiatives – Brewtroleum and Beer Bottle Sand. The DB Export Save the Entire World competition asked New Zealanders to think outside-the-box about sustainability for their ‘world saving ideas’, and we think that the idea to create a biodegradable plastic-alternative product is a true ‘world saving idea’ that has the potential to make a really positive environmental impact. If we were able to use our spent grain, a bi-product of brewing, to make biodegradable cups for example, we’d not only be finding a good use for waste materials but also creating an environmentally friendly solution for our customers when they’re at events,” says Tony.
“We believe the uses for this type of product are endless and we’re really excited to help fund the prototyping of Mohi’s idea. We look forward to seeing the results!”