Edible Water Bottle, The Better Alternative To Plastic
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
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How many of you out there are frequent consumer of bottled water?
Did you know that less than a quarter of about 50 billion plastic water bottles produced each year in United States will be recycled? About 50 billion single-use plastic water bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are produced in the United States each year, and most are discarded. According to the National Association for PET Container Resources, the recycling rate for PET has held steady at 31% since 2013. That equates to more than 4 billion pounds of unrecycled PET bottles in landfills, on roadsides and beaches, or in rivers and oceans. The properties that make PET useful as a packaging material (stability and durability) also make it resistant to breaking down after its useful life is over. PET is considered to be essentially non-biodegradable, with plastic bottles estimated to take as long as 450 years to decompose. There is also ongoing concern as to the use of plastics in consumer food packaging solutions, environmental impact of the disposal of these products, as well as concerns regarding consumer safety. Karin Michaels, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, suggests that toxins leaching from plastics might be related to disorders such as infertility and cancer in humans. Because of these reasons, other packaging materials are being sought.
Human ingenuity never fails to amaze me. Scientists have been working on potential replacement for plastic water bottles and they came up with a terrific alternative! The edible water bottle is a blob-like water container made from sodium alginate gel. The biodegradable blob was created by Skipping Rocks Lab in an attempt to make a more environmentally friendly alternative to single-serving plastic bottles. The container, named “Ooho” by its creators, encloses a small volume of water in a membrane made from brown algae and calcium chloride. The manufacturing process is covered under a Creative Commons license, making the recipe freely distributed and readily available for anyone to use.
Currently the edible water container is not available commercially, although the developers are working to bring it to market. Prototypes have been tested in several markets in Europe. Major challenges remain before the Ooho is marketed to the public. The membrane is thin, and not strong enough to withstand shipping and handling on a large scale. Drinking from it can be difficult because of its amorphous shape and lack of rigidity. Because the recipe is available through a Creative Commons license, the containers can be made by anyone who obtains the ingredients. The cost per container is less than 2 cents.
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