Conventional plastic materials are made from non-renewable resources, and pollution by these materials represents a global threat to marine environments. The EU recently voted for a complete ban of the most common single-use plastics by 2021, which has significantly stimulated the interest in bio-based and biodegradable materials, particularly in the food packaging and service industries.
However, bioplastics still face challenges related to sustainability of the feedstock, low biodegradability and/or recyclability and unsatisfactory properties, limiting their applications and widespread implementation.
The main objective of PlastiSea is to develop novel bioplastic materials based on cultivated and wild species of brown algae. The project will thus provide innovative and sustainable bioplastic substrates with promising properties, and simultaneously add value to a growing seaweed industry in Europe.
The seaweed biomass will be processed to obtain polysaccharide-rich fractions, employing various degrees of refinement toward high-volume applications in the food industry as well as high-performance products for the biomedical sector. Novel bioplastic substrates will be developed with a focus on competitive structural properties and biodegradability, utilizing inherent properties of seaweed polysaccharides combined with novel bioplastic formulations and structuring technology. High-volume products will be developed toward pilot-scale manufacture and future industrial-scale implementation after the project's end. The value chain from raw material to products will be evaluated from an environmental and economic perspective to identify and address challenges and opportunities in scaling and ensure a sustainable pipeline for value creation.