Edible water bottle to cause a splash at EU sustainability awards

[UK] An edible alternative to plastic water bottles made from seaweed has topped the UK round of an EU competition for new, more sustainable products.

The new spherical form of packaging, called Ooho and described by its makers as “water you can eat”, is biodegradeable, hygenic and costs 1p per unit to make. It is made chiefly from calcium chloride and a seaweed derivative called sodium alginate.

Ooho won the joint award with Alchemie Technologie, who have created a digital way of dispensing dye for the textile industry. Clothes are dyed selectively using a product similar to an industrial inkjet printer, replacing the full immersion process used currently, which consumes vast quantities of chemicals, water and heat.

Both companies take home €20,000 of investment from the competition run by Climate KIC, created by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the EU body tasked with galvanising the transformation to a sustainable economy. They will go on to compete against entrepreneurs from across Europe.

With global sales of packaged water hitting 223 bn litres this year, Ian Ellerington, Director of Science and Innovation at the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change and one of the judges of the competition, told the Guardian:

“[Ooho] is a good replacement packaging that would be really widely applicable across lots of different products. The potential for packaging reduction is really high for one of the petroleum products used across the world.”

Ooho designer Pierre Paslier, described the product as like a “man-made fruit”, which uses a double membrane to contain water. To carry larger quantities of water, a number of the capsules can be packed into a larger and thicker skin: much like an orange.

He told the Guardian: “At the end of the day you don’t have to eat it. But the edible part shows how natural it is. People are really enthusiastic about the fact that you can create a material for packaging matter that is so harmless that you can eat it.”

He added: “So many things are wrong about plastic bottles: the time they take to decompose, the amount of energy that goes into making them and the fact we are using more and more.”

Investors are showing an increasing interest in clean technologies, with the global market soaring to £205bn ($310bn) in 2014, a 16% increase. In June, the world’s richest man and Microsoft founder Bill Gates pledged to invest $2bn in breakthrough renewable technologies.

 

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