Seaweed food packaging could eliminate the need for plastic

Fish and chip packaging made of seaweed and a documentary about council clean-ups are among projects by UNSW design students at the Australian Design Centre’s Designing Bright Futures exhibition.

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Jessica Zinga's Sea Harvest. Photo: Supplied

As global pressure to reduce plastic waste grows, graduating UNSW design student Jessica Zinga has invented an entirely renewable form of packaging: seaweed fish and chip containers.

The biodegradable packets are produced from 100% seaweed that, unlike plastic and polystyrene, can be returned to the ocean rather than landfill, creating a closed-loop life-cycle.

“I’ve used seaweed as a renewable material that doesn’t use fresh water for irrigation, pesticides or consume fertile farmland,” says Zinga, who is exhibiting her project, Sea Harvest, at the Australian Design Centre’s Design Bright Futures exhibition.

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Jessica Zinga's Sea Harvest. Photo: Supplied

“I see seaweed as creating value from locally accessible and sustainable resources that could be explored in any region of the world. Seaweed farming has been promoted to fisherman in developing tropical countries as a profitable revenue, taking pressure off local fisheries.”

The harvested seaweed is compressed and moulded to produce bowl-like containers ideal for take-away food eaten on the beach.

Zinga also uses harvested seaweed to make natural dyes for textiles.

Her work is being exhibited along with 11 other outstanding 2017 UNSW Art & Design graduating Masters and Bachelor of Design students across fields including jewellery, textiles, graphics and spatial design.

Another graduate student, Julia Sharkey, has designed MyCycle, an app and website that makes bio-degradable and organic menstrual sanitary products easily available by delivering products directly to the consumer.

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Julia Sharkey's MyCycle. Photo: Supplied

A portion of proceeds from each sale is given to Loving Humanity, a charity that provides safe and sanitary menstrual products to the women of the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan. 

“I wanted to create an opportunity to easily access healthy and eco-friendly alternatives to commercial, non-organic menstrual hygiene products,” Sharkey says.

The sustainable design theme continues in Mia Sabel’s Rubbish Rescue, a documentary and series of portraits that explores the reuse of disposed objects from council clean-ups.

“I want to inspire audiences to embrace reuse in their lives, and perhaps give kerbside shopping a try. If all waste was once designed, I want to explore how can we design to avoid this,” says Sabel.

Australian Design Centre’s Designing Bright Futures exhibition runs until 31 January 2018. For details click here.

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Mia Sabel's Rubbish Rescue. Photo: Supplied