Biodegradable algae water bottles provide a green alternative to plastic
Plastic water bottles come with a higher price tag than most people realize, taking up to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill. The fact that at least half of all water bottles are used only once makes the waste that much more egregious. Icelandic product designer Ari Jónsson decided he needed to take action by fashioning a biodegradable water bottle from algae.
This product was designed by student Ari Jónsson has combined red algae powder with water to create a biodegradable bottle.
Jónsson – who studies at the Iceland Academy of the Arts – exhibited the project during this year's Reykjavik design festival DesignMarch from 10 to 13 March 2016.
After reading about the amount of waste plastic produced every day, the designer felt an "urgent" need to develop a replacement material.
"I read that 50 per cent of plastic is used once and then thrown away 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 told Dezeen. "Why are we using materials that take hundreds of years to break down in nature to drink from once and then throw away?"
He began studying the strengths and weaknesses of different materials to determine what could be suitable for use as a water bottle. Eventually he came across a powdered form of agar, a substance made from algae.
When agar powder is added to water, it forms a jelly-like material. After experimenting to find the right proportions, Jónsson slowly heated the substance before pouring it into a bottle-shaped mould that had been kept in the freezer.
He then rotated the mould while submerged in a bucket of ice-cold water, until the liquid inside has taken the shape of the bottle.
It was then placed in a refrigerator for a few minutes before the agar bottle was extracted from the mould.
Designers are increasingly experimenting with seaweed and other forms of algae. Seaweed has recently been used as architectural cladding and to create lampshades, while algae provided a base material to form a yarn for weaving rugs and a dye for colouring textiles. Algae has even been implemented as an energy source to power buildings.
Jónsson's algae bottles were presented at the Drifting Cycles student exhibition, which was held during DesignMarch 2016 inside a remote lighthouse.