Evoware is an Indonesian startup that is turning seaweed into biodegradable and edible packaging. The country has a serious plastic waste problem, which harms the environment in all sorts of ways. This kind of innovation could, therefore, provide an effective solution – not just to Indonesia, but to countries all over the world that continue to rely on plastic.
Indonesia’s plastic waste problem
Indonesia is the second biggest contributor of plastic waste to the ocean. 90% of plastic waste ends up in the ocean and 70% of that comes from food and drink packaging. It is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. Moreover, 25% of fish that is available to consumers in Indonesia is contaminated with plastic.
In response to these shocking facts, Evoware wanted to develop packaging that was eco-friendly and biodegradable. It pinpointed seaweed as the raw material to use, not just for its environmental benefits but also because it would be advantageous to Indonesia’s seaweed farmers.
Evoware emphasises that a large volume of seaweed production is underused, so there is an oversupply of the stuff. The majority of seaweed farmers are poor which is due to both a long marketing chain and loan sharks. In addition, 5 of the 6 poorest provinces in Indonesia are producing seaweed, so increasing the demand for the product could help to alleviate the poverty in these regions.
The benefits of seaweed-based packaging
Evoware’s packaging comes in two varieties, a biodegradable one that can be used to package soaps and other non-consumable products, and an edible one that can be used to wrap food, as well as for tea bags and flavouring sachets. Evoware says its packaging “dissolves in warm water, making it a zero waste product”, it has “2 years of shelf life, even without preservative”, and it is nutritious, containing “high fiber, vitamins and minerals”. The company adds:
Seaweed-based packagings are good for small-format food sachets and wraps, e.g. instant noodle seasoning, cereal, single serving coffee powder and the complements, rice wrap, burger wrap, etc. It’s good to replace your conventional packaging to enjoy your delicious food in a convenient and healthy way, and a best way to save our only earth. It can also be used to package the non-food based contents such as toothpicks, soap bars and sanitary pads.
TreeHugger also makes the case for biodegradable packaging like this:
It’s a curious and infuriating fact that our culture manufactures single-use products, such as beverage bottles, packaging, drinking straws, and bags, out of a material that basically never goes away, but instead just breaks down into smaller and smaller particles that find their way into almost everything.
Although we might idealistically call for a ban of plastics, or mandatory recycling, or adding a hefty surcharge for each ‘disposable’ plastic item, one of the only things that seems to hold promise in reducing plastic pollution is to move toward greener materials that are made from renewable resources and can break down quickly without adding more of a toxic load to our waterways.
It’s time for other countries to follow suit
Companies from all over the world should take notice of this innovative solution to the problem of plastic pollution. For the past 20 years, the UK has been dumping its plastic waste in China. But it’s now no longer allowed to do so. Now the UK will need to figure out what to do with two-thirds of its plastic waste. There are a few ways it could improve the situation, but really, if we want to do away with plastic completely, then we need to push for viable, biodegradable alternatives to plastic.
About the author: Sam Woolfe @samwoolfe
Sam is a writer who is especially interested in space exploration, sustainability, animal agriculture, nutrition, wellbeing and smart drugs.