From small homewares to larger pieces of furniture, a new seaweed material turns waste into useful items
Spotted: Seaweed has become a versatile ingredient used in everything from animal and human food to cosmetics, packaging, and biofuel. Yet despite such growth, experts believe the industry’s potential is still largely untapped. Currently, the vast majority of the world’s seaweed is grown in Asian countries, one of the reasons researchers consider that the “opportunities for growth in new regions and applications are high.”
One new company getting involved in the industry is Australia’s Phycoforms, which has developed a collection of commercial composites made from waste seaweed sourced from Tasmanian seaweed farms. This innovation grew out of an exploratory project during founder Shimroth Thomas’ master’s degree at Australia’s RMIT University. After graduation, at which he received a sustainability award for his work, Thomas continued his R&D programme in order to further develop and commercialise the materials.
The seaweed-based materials are biodegradable and designed to replace bricks, concrete, and more in traditional construction work. Depending on the item being produced, Phycoforms adds other materials to the seaweed, such as waste coffee grounds, seashells, and other beach detritus. The composites are available as large pressed sheets as well as in products that include tables, chairs, bowls, floor lamps, and other homewares. Thomas has also explored the feasibility of a ‘PhycoWall’.
From removing overabundant algae blooms to create new products to using seaweed to increase the lifespan of electric vehicle batteries, innovations spotted by Springwise are transforming the easy-to-grow plant into sustainable solutions in many different industries.
Written By: Keely Khoury