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UK Company Introduces Seaweed-based Substitute to Curb Plastic Pollution from Ketchup Packets

Sachets of condiments are a major source of pollution | Image credit: Reuters/Reuters (Representational)

Sachets of condiments are a major source of pollution | Image credit: Reuters/Reuters (Representational)

The condiment sachets named ‘Ooho’ are made from seaweed which are biodegradable, compostable and hence eco-friendly.

A UK-based startup has come with a genius solution to tackle the environmental pollution caused by the excessive use of plastics. The company called Notpla has created an organic casing that could be used as an alternative of non-biodegradable plastic in storing and packaging eatables like ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, or any other condiment.

The sachets named ‘Ooho’ are made from seaweed which are biodegradable, compostable and hence eco-friendly. The firm uses seaweed produced in northern France, which is dried and crushed into a powder-like substance. It then undergoes a process that the company has patented to turn it into a substance which can be given various shapes and sizes.

The process has been found to be very efficient and cost-effective as seaweed grows faster than the usual materials used in the packaging industry like paper or starch. According to Notpla co-founder Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez, one strain of seaweed grows up to three feet in a day.

“Can you imagine something growing that fast? You don't need fertilizer, you don't need to put water on it, and it's a resource that we have been using for a long time,” Gonzalez was quoted as saying by Business Insider.

The Ooho sachets come in various sizes, from a third of an ounce (approximately 10 grams) to two ounces (over 50 grams). Notpla has partnered with a British food delivery app called Just Eat on a trial basis, in which Ooho sachets are used for Hellmann's ketchup, barbecue sauce and other seasoning condiments.

According to Hellman's parent company Unilever, more than 90 per cent of customers found the Ooho sachets easy to use and expressed that they would prefer to use more of such packages.

Notpla has also developed packages for beverages, which can be easily opened using a bite. Alcohol brand Glenlivet used Oohos filled with whiskey and with water at the London Marathon. Earlier this year, a gym installed a vending machine which dispensed energy drinks filled in Oohos. The company is now targeting to bring a line of disposable takeout boxes to replace plastic carryout containers.

Last year the Notpla had raised over $1 million in crowdfunding and this year has raised another $5 million in venture capital.


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