Portuguese-led study shows how crabs, prawns and algae may solve global plastic crisis
New advances in ‘marine-based’ biotechnology involving algae, crabs and prawns could help tackle the global plastic crisis, according to a major EU study.
A detailed report released today by a consortium of leading European scientists shows that biodegradable biopolymers created from the sea have the potential to compete with traditional plastics — while crucially offering a more environmentally friendly alternative.
The study on ‘Marine Industrial Biotechnology’ is part of the €1million KETmaritime project, funded by the Interreg Atlantic Area Program, via the European Regional Development Fund.
Project coordinator Ana Vila from the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) said the global bioplastics and biopolymers market is projected to surpass $5Billion by 2021.
The latest KETmaritime study was led by Spanish technology centre IDONIAL in collaboration with Marine South East in the UK and the INL in Portugal.
“We are witnessing a major global movement as countries around the world are looking to prohibit or limit the use of conventional plastics,” Ana Vila said. “There is growing pressure to find more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives. Recent advances in the production of biopolymers from marine sources such as algae, crabs, shrimp and prawn waste are proving hugely successful. A key attraction is the ‘biodegradability’ factor which could help reduce the problem of marine litter — considered by the European Commission as one of the largest current threats to the environment.
“Our latest study highlights a number of companies who are already putting the technology into practice including Netherlands firm Studio Klarenbeek & Dros working alongside Atelier Luma in France to develop algae-based biopolymers to compete with traditional plastics. The material can be applied on an industrial scale and processed like traditional plastic. It has proven to be suitable for injection moulding with 3D printing processes. Meanwhile, in Italy, Algamoil and Teregroup are also working on the development of 100pc biodegradable plastic made with algae in the form of filaments.”