London-based start-up Skipping Rocks Lab has come up with an alternative to single-use plastic in food and drink packaging. Ooho is a flexible, 100 per cent biodegradable container made from a type of seaweed that grows up to three metres per day. It’s even edible, meaning no waste, no bins and no recycling.
We worked with the business to design, build and test the machine that can make containers from this seaweed-based material. Skipping Rocks Labs will lease the machines, which are about the size of a vending machine, to businesses so they can produce and fill Oohos daily on-site, rather than taking up storage space with stock. The business ultimately aims to help stop up to one billion plastic bottles reaching the ocean every year, and eliminate the 300 million kg of carbon emissions that goes with them. As well as using nine times less energy to produce, the material has the potential to be cost competitive with plastic.
We started working with Skipping Rocks Lab after meeting their team at an event run by the Circular
Economy 100 programme, a collection of businesses driving towards a more sustainable world, in late 2016. Our team of mechanical and process engineers has worked closely with their team of scientists to develop and test two machines for different use cases. And together we finalised a production prototype in 2018.
Oohos have already been used at multiple running races, helping to make marathons plastic free and providing runners with easy-to-use packets of water. They’ve been filled with cold pressed ginger juice and sold at Selfridges, London, a luxury department store. And takeaway delivery company Just Eat has been using them to replace ketchup sachets and pizza dipping sauce. As Skipping Rocks Lab replicates the Ooho-making machine, they’ll be able to seize even more opportunities to replace single-use plastics.
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