This Algae-Based Water Bottle Biodegrades When It's Empty

Ari Jónsson

Plastic bottles can lay around in landfill sites or the ocean for centuries. While our planet struggles to cope with our ever-increasing appetite for plastic, an Icelandic product design student was inspired to create a little something to address the issue.

Ari Jónsson, from the Iceland Academy of the Arts, has harnessed the properties of red algae to create a biodegradable bottle for drinking water. He unveiled his invention at Reykjavik design festival DesignMarch last month. The bottles are made out of agar powder, which derives from the supporting structure in the cell walls of certain species of algae. If this is added to water and allowed to cool, it will eventually set and mould into a jelly-like substance.

The bottle retains its shape when it's full of fluid but will start to decompose as soon as it's empty it. Since it's made of all natural and non-toxic materials, you can even eat the bottle – although agar is used as a laxative, so you might want to go easy on it.

Speaking to Dezeen, 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?

"I read that 50 percent 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."

At the moment, the bottle is still just a concept design and has no plans for commercial distribution. Nonetheless, it’s still a creative solution which is helping challenge our frivolous attitudes to chucking away waste.

"I can't claim that this is the perfect solution for our problem with plastic bottles," Jónsson told Fast Company.

"But it's a start and an idea that hopefully helps us to look at new ways to solve the problem ... Switching to reusable bottles is also great, but that will have its pros and cons, just like my project, the more ways we can tackle this issue the better."

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