Single-use plastic bags have already been banned in California but worldwide, plastic pollution appears to be a continuing problem.
A company in Berkeley is now moving to replace thin plastic bags, the culprit in clogged landfills and ocean pollution, with a seaweed-made alternative. The first products of the company “Sway” are set to be released next year, which will include retail shopping bags and thin coverings used for clothing and product protection, or poly bags, used for shipping, San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Sway CEO Julia Marsh said the bags are biodegradable and are made to break down easily in a yard compost.
“We’re really focused on thin film plastics,” Marsh said, noting that there are about 500 billion plastic bags used annually worldwide. “They’re really difficult to recycle and really difficult to replace with anything else.”
Apart from plastic, farmed seaweed also emerges as an effective climate solution. Research on its use as biofuel was in fact financed by the U.S. government. The agriculture sector can also benefit from it as it can be a petroleum-free fertilizer and feed supplement – which cuts down carbon footprint.
In addition, seaweed can restore the stored carbon in marine ecosystems for several fold more as compared to land-based forests. The process lessens the climate change-triggered ocean acidification.
“It’s a regenerative resource,” Marsh said. “The more seaweed we cultivate, the healthier the oceans are.”
The company has colleagues from the United States, Great Britain, and Indonesia which helps in the development of single-use plastic alternatives made of seaweed. Several seaweed are also farmed in these areas.
Sway, which unveiled its first wave of funding amounting to $2.5 million on Wednesday, will get its seaweeds from Latin America. A huge industry already operates in the said region, which already makes use of the seaweed for developing products connected to cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.