FISH WASTE TURNED INTO A BIODEGRADABLE MATERIAL COULD REPLACE SINGLE-USE PLASTIC

Lucy Hughes, 24, a graduate in product design from the University of Sussex, has been awarded the prestigious James Dyson award Credit: James Dyson award Facebook

LUCY HUGHES, 24, a graduate in product design from the University of Sussex, has been awarded the prestigious James Dyson award for her biodegradable and compostable material known as MarinaTex.

The annual award scheme is run by the James Dyson Foundation, and is an international design award, that “inspires, encourages and celebrates budding inventors’ new, problem-solving ideas – and provides a platform to launch them.”

Sir James Dyson said in regards to this year’s winner: “Young engineers have the passion, awareness and intelligence to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. MarinaTex elegantly solves two problems: the ubiquity of single-use plastic and fish waste.”

Hughes’s entry had already won the top prize in the UK awards, but on Thursday it was announced that it had beaten 1,078 others from 28 different countries.

MarinaTex is made out of fish guts, skins and scale which are flexible and strong. The discovery that fish waste was so flexible and strong prompted Lucy to locate an organic binder, choosing agar, to create an organic material. It reportedly took more than 100 experiments to finally develop MarinaTex.

MarinaTex kills two birds with one stone, on one side it reduces fish waste, in the UK alone there is 50 million tonnes of fish waste produced each year, and secondly it tackles the problems of environmentally harmful single-use plastics. Global figures estimate that 40% of plastic produced for packaging is used once and discarded.

MarinaTex is flexible and translucent, ideal for replacing plastic for single-use packaging and is biodegrades in four to six weeks. With the additional plus, that no toxins are left.

According to Lucy, one Atlantic cod could generate as much organic waste as is needed for making 1,400 bags of MarinaTex.

“It makes no sense to me that we’re using plastic, an incredibly durable material, for products that have a life-cycle of less than a day,” Hughes said during the James Dyson Award on receiving her £30,000 international prize for compostable MarinaTex as stated by The Guardian.

Lucy now plans to use the money won to develop MarinaTex and begin work toward mass-producing it. Lucy believes that engineers shouldn’t limit themselves to designing but also to “form, function and footprint.”

 

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Written by

Cristina Hodgson

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