Sussex University product design student Lucy Hughes has won the 2019 UK Dyson Award for her MarinaTex bioplastic.
According to The Engineer, the new product is made from fish waste and agar.
Although it looks and feels like clear plastic, MarinaTex is produced at temperatures below 100 degrees Celsius and requires just four to six weeks to degrade completely.
The Engineer reports that early half of the five million tonnes of plastic used in the UK each year comes from packaging.
Lucy hopes her creation will help replace some of this single-use plastic, while also finding a stream for the half a million tonnes of fish waste produced in the country annually.
“Plastic is an amazing material, and as a result, we have become too reliant on it as designers and engineers,” says Lucy.
“It makes no sense to me that we’re using plastic, an incredibly durable material, for products that have a life-cycle of less than a day.
“For me, MarinaTex represents a commitment to material innovation and selection by incorporating sustainable, local and circular values into design.”
“As creators, we should not limit ourselves to designing to just form and function, but rather form, function and footprint.”
According to Lucy, it took over 100 different experiments to refine the material and process – most of which she did on the kitchen stove of her student accommodation.
She says that one Atlantic cod could generate enough organic waste to produce 1,400 bags of MarinaTex.
As national winner of the Dyson Award 2019, Lucy will receive $2500 as well as moving on to the international round of the competition for a chance to win $37,000.
According to The Engineer, Lucy plans to use her award money for further research into how MarinaTex could become a global answer to the abundance of plastic waste.