Seaweed and Algae

Algopack, From Brown Seaweeds to Blue Bioplastic

Having spent most of his family vacation in Brittany, seaweeds were no stranger to David Coti, the Founder of Algopack, but it was not until recently that he started to explore their true potential.

Moved by the vision that a solution from the ocean could help solving one of its greatest problems, David created Algopack – a company that provides a myriad of blue bioplastic-based solutions using seaweeds. We talked to David and got to explore all about Algopack!

The potential of brown seaweeds!

Based on his lifetime experience with seaweeds and supported by different specialists in the plastic industry and local seaweed harvesters, David started to experiment different solutions with one clear goal – develop a material that could progressively replace the use of oil-based plastics. With this development, Algopack launched two main categories of products– Algoblend® and Algopack® – both using brown seaweeds, such as Sargassum or Laminaria digitata, as its bio-based material.

The main differences between Algoblend® and Algopack®

Both product categories have different characteristics, depending on their final use. As David explained – “Algoblend® can be more versatile in terms of transformation process, consistency and color”. He quickly adds that “this solution is still produced with a blend of oil-based plastic, as it is mainly used for more permanent material, such as office equipment (files organizers, boxes, tables, chairs) and construction material, and not for disposable items”. On the other hand, Algopack® is a completely different material as David explained- “it is a bio-based material composed 100% by seaweed (mostly by-products from other industries) with no additives, precisely targeting the development of one-time-use items (such as disposable packaging) with the advantage of being completely biodegradable in the end”.

Current challenges and future developments for Algopack®

Algopack® holds great potential, but David aims to push it even further – “As this is a 100% bio-based material, we needed to develop a specific transformation process that can give it cohesion and strength for stability, which is constantly being improved”. Of course, such a biodegradable product has its challenges, mainly related to the needed balance between “shelf” degradability and durability. This means that the products need to be stable enough to endure transportation time (with different humidity conditions), but still be able to degrade after use, such as flower pots! Also, the products are still limited when it comes to food use, as the degradability can interfere with the taste.

Nevertheless, David explained that “although we are continuously improving the material to expand the range of applications, we are now focused in developing non-food single-use items!”.

Algopack® aims to keep-up with the industry needs

Despite this focus, Algopack® wants to keep its flexibility and be able to answer the industries’ needs. As David explained – “The industry is looking for these innovative solutions for, basically, everything! Especially for packaging, where can develop many solutions, or even personal care!”. With this, David explained some other applications where Algopack® has been most requested – “Besides the flower pots, the material is also growing in demand for cotton buds! These one-time use items are, most of the times, flushed in the toilet, and a biodegradable seaweed-based solution is the perfect alternative to prevent more plastic from reaching the oceans!”.

The ongoing partnerships and projects

Right now, Algopack has already developed important partnerships with international laboratories and companies that are supporting the development of prototypes for the cotton buds and the flower pots projects. Moreover, David shared that “we are also exploring the applications for isolation material for construction and for polystyrene boxes, used to temporarily transport fish from the market to the restaurants and immediately discarded afterwards”.

Finally, David is one of our BioMarine Community Members and a part of the Blue Bioplastic Consortium, contributing to bring Algopack’s vision into our strategy! We’ll keep you posted on further developments!

REFS

This article was published on biomarine.org and written by Ana Ferreira