According to an article by the organization Ban the Bottle, the United States alone produce a total of one billion plastic bottle wastes annually due to its low recycling rate.
Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil every year, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year.
That doesn’t even include the oil used for transportation. If we add up the data worldwide, the result is more devastating. A plastic water bottle, on the other hand, takes more than 1,000 years to biodegrade.
A plastic water bottle, on the other hand, takes more than 1,000 years to biodegrade.
“I read that 50% of plastic is used once and then thrown away so I feel there is an urgent need to find ways to replace some of the unreal amount of plastic we make, use and throw away each day.
Why are we using materials that take hundreds of years to break down in nature to drink from once and then throw away?” – Ari Jonsson
Algae water bottles offer greener alternative to plastic:
Product design student Ari Jonsson has combined red algae powder with water to create a biodegradable bottle. The bottle is made from agar, a powder made from algae. Agar dates back to the 1650’s, when a Japanese innkeeper tossed out extra soup and saw it gel together overnight. Agar made its way into microbiology labs in the late 1800’s and is still used today to separate molecules.
When agar powder is added to water, it forms a jelly-like material. After experimenting to find the right proportions, Jonsson slowly heated the compound before pouring it into a bottle-shaped mould that had been kept in the freezer.
As long as the bottle is full of water, it will keep its shape, but as soon as it is empty, it will begin to decompose. When the bottle is left sitting in open air, it takes about seven days for it to shrink down. It can sustainably decompose in soil, but Ari Jonsson has not yet determined how long that process would take.
The bottle also has another unexpected advantage over plastic: it naturally stays cool, even in hot weather. Plus, the material is edible, though Ari admits that you probably would only want to eat it if you whipped up a batch of bottles at home, and not if a bottle’s been sitting in a store. The taste is a little odd.
At this point, the biodegradable bottle is only a conceptual piece and not yet ready for use as a powerful substitute to plastics. Ari Jonsson admits that the biggest issue with agar as a packaging material is that it tears quite quickly, which isn’t exactly something you want to deal with when it comes to carrying water around.
These algae bottles were presented at the Drifting Cycles student exhibition, which was held during DesignMarch 2016 inside an isolated lighthouse.