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Trending: Algae, Ocean Plastics Pave the Way for More Sustainable Consumer Products

Klarenbeek and Dros's research and algae production lab at the Luma Foundation in Arles, France | Image credit: Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros/Dezeen

Petroleum-based plastic’s time is running out as new, more sustainable material solutions emerge. 

According to the International Air Transport Association, 5.2 million tons of waste were generated by airline passengers in 2016. With the release of its new OCN cosmetic range, Galileo Watermark, a producer of amenity kits and a leader in onboard hospitality design and development for the travel and retail industries, is working to drive these numbers down.

The first in a broader collection of products made from recycled ocean plastic, the OCN skincare line is made with cruelty-free, natural ingredients and uses packaging made from reclaimed and repurposed plastic collected from the ocean and waterways. The line was developed in response to the mounting marine plastics problem, which the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has said could result in plastic marine debris outpopulating fish by 2050 if current practices continue.

“The aviation industry is a significant contributor to plastic waste and our airline partners are working towards more sustainable options across all aspects of their sourcing requirements,” said Kenny Harmel, head of Aviation at Galileo Watermark. “We want to support this drive as much as possible by offering innovative solutions from both waste reduction and sustainable material usage.”

Collaboration is crucial for driving the shift towards a more sustainable model of the airline industry, and Galileo is working with its partners to institute a closed-loop recycling solution to ensure that its OCN products do not end up back in the ocean. The company plans to collect used products and recycle and repurpose the plastic.

Demand for recycled, sustainable products is on the rise in the airline industry. Emirates introduced blankets made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles on its long-haul flights earlier this year, which is estimates will divert more 88 million plastic bottles from landfill by the end of 2019. Virgin Atlantic has eliminated the use of polythene bags to provide headphones to passengers, instead placing them inside Change for Children charity collection envelopes, which are now made with Forest Stewardship Council certified paper.

Meanwhile, Dutch designers Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros have developed an algae-based biopolymer that could finally kick petroleum-derived plastic to the curb.

The biopolymer is produced in the duo’s Arles, France research and algae production lab at Luma Foundation, where they cultivate, dry and process the algae to make a moldable material, which can then be used in special 3D printers to create everything from shampoo bottles to bowls.

Klarenbeek and Dros envision a future where each community will be equipped with one of these biopolymer 3D printers, which consumers can use to print their goods, ultimately revolutionizing the current model of consumption and drastically reducing the CO2 emissions associated with a globalized economy. What’s more, the process encourages the use of local materials (local algae) and produces oxygen, taking the concept of zero emissions to another level.

“This is the change we believe in; designing products are distributed via the internet but made locally,” Klarenbeek and Dros told Dezeen. “We don’t want to grow into a large centralized organization. We want to change the system so that people grow raw materials locally that they can use to produce things that comply with their needs.”

The designers plan to pilot the technology at restaurants and catering companies in the Arles area in the near future.

Libby MacCarthy is an Editorial Assistant at Sustainable Brands, based in Toulouse, France. She is a former urban planner specializing in sustainable cities, and an urban farming and film photography enthusiast. She holds a BA in Environment, Society and Sustainability… [Read more about Libby MacCarthy]

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