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“Our goal is to make packaging disappear” – will this ‘edible water bottle’ make plastic obsolete?

Forget the slightly irritating name. Ooho! is an edible water pouch that could replace plastic bottles and traditional packaging. Not convinced? Check out this and other eco-friendly innovations with the potential to eliminate plastic pollution.  

One plastic bottle takes roughly 700 years to decompose. Yet on average, only around 20% of bottles are recycled. Therefore, finding eco-friendly alternatives to plastic bottles is now big business.

Ooho! – the plastic bottle you can eat

Ooho! is a biodegradable drinks pouch. It can be eaten whole after use or simply ripped and sipped. The jelly-like skin holds everything from soft drinks to spirits, making it ideal for outdoor events like festivals and marathons.

The brainchild of boffins and business experts at start-up Skipping Rocks Lab, Ooho! is cheaper than plastic. If not eaten, it decomposes in 4-6 weeks. In addition, the membranes can be made at home.

“Anyone can make them in their kitchen, modifying and innovating the recipe,” said the team based at Imperial College in London. “It’s not DIY but CIY – cook it yourself.

“We want to solve the plastic waste problem and reduce climate impact from packaging. Our goal is to make packaging disappear. It’s so natural that it is biodegradable and even edible.”

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Box clever – Boxed Water Is Better (BWIB)

In the US, 93 billion plastic bottles find their way into landfill annually. Boxed Water Is Better (BWIB) sells purified water in boxes not bottles. Sounds simple, right? Well, good ideas usually are.

Roughly three-quarters of each box is made of paper, fully recyclable and free of harmful chemicals. The Michigan-based company also ships its boxes flat to regional filling stations. As a result, it employs one truck for every 26 used by many plastic bottle operators, reducing its carbon footprint.

Boxed water is catching on. BWIB recently opened a second filling station in Utah to meet demand.

Biodegradable breakthrough? Bottles made from seaweed

Icelandic student Ari Jónsson has designed a fully biodegradable bottle. Like Ooho!, it is made of algae and keeps its shape, even when full of water. However, as soon as it is empty it starts to decompose.

“50% of plastic is thrown away after only being used once. So I feel there is an urgent need to find ways to replace some of the unreal amount of plastic we make, use and throw away each day,” Jónsson said.

“Why are we using materials that take hundreds of years to break down in nature to drink from once and then throw away?”

The water stored inside is safe to drink as the bottle is made from 100% natural materials. Then the bottle can be eaten, just like Ooho!. Jónsson describes the taste as ‘seaweed jello’. Nice.

The expert view: Beverage Packaging Innovation editor Matthew Rogerson on plastic alternatives.

“Pouches are seeing the greatest growth. They are convenient, easy to transport, take the least amount of space and provide excellent barrier properties to extend the shelf life of the product.”

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