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Skipping Rocks Lab: edible, biodegradable food packaging

Skipping Rocks Lab: edible, biodegradable food packaging

A London-based start-up is creating waste-free alternatives to plastic bottles and pioneering the idea of food packaging that only lasts as long as it needs to.

A bottle of water is a short-life product that is quickly consumed yet sold in plastic packaging designed to last almost indefinitely. Approximately 13 billion plastic bottles are used each year in the UK but only 7.5 billion are recycled.

Edible packaging

Skipping Rocks Lab is developing compostable and, in some cases, edible packaging that’s appropriate to its use, which lasts days or weeks rather than hundreds of years.

Skipping Rocks Lab Chief Financial Officer Lise Honsinger said, “Our mission statement is ‘to make packaging disappear’. What we mean by that is to replace plastic packaging with natural packaging that disintegrates in the environment or in your food waste or in landfill”.

Their latest product, Ooho, a ‘flexible packaging for liquid’ made predominantly from seaweed extract that can be used for a number of different applications, from water bottles, running event drinks and sauce sachets.

Challenging the industry

Ms Honsinger “Ooho gives people the chance to be good and it challenges the industry standard for what packaging has to be.

“We find that there’s a mismatch. Plastic is a great product for something that’s going to be on the shelf for months but using plastic for something that you’re going to have two swigs of and throw away doesn’t make any sense. That packaging lasts 700 years in the environment and you’re going to use it for seconds or minutes at most.”

The future of Oohos

As well as helping with recruitment and R&D, the Plastics Research and Innovation Fund has also been used to develop an automated Ooho machine, which can further speed up the process and lessen the reliance on manual labour.The challenge now is to bring the cost down to compete with the current domination of plastic packaging in the market. Initially, Oohos were made by hand at a cost over £1 per unit, but with significant investment and engineering, Skipping Rocks Lab are hoping to get this price to single digit pennies with mechanical automation.

Plastics Research and Innovation Fund

The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund £20 million Plastic Research and Innovation challenge was announced by the Chancellor during the Autumn Statement in 2017. It will fund the development of new materials, catalysing new ideas and rapid solutions across the research and innovation landscape.

Find out more about the Plastic Research and Innovation fund.