Researchers from Victoria University believe seaweed can be harnessed to replace plastic packaging. Now, they have teamed up with China which grows and harvests around three-quarters of the world’s seaweed per year.
On China’s Shandong Peninsula, there are seaweed farms established for polymer production, some of which have been used to produce clothes.
Victoria University researcher Dr. Jianhua Zhang said that China’s expertise makes China a crucial collaborator in the field of seaweed research.
Dr. Zhang’s team will collaborate with three major universities across Shandong.
Making seaweed polymer will only be one phase of the process; the other will involve altering the polymer to suit specific products, said Dr. Zhang.
“On the Australian side, we know how to modify those polymers for packaging purposes,” he said.
“On the Chinese side, they know how to extract the polymer from seaweed, and make those materials fit our requirements.
“More than 70 per cent of our earth is the sea, so we have a great potential to farm plants in the sea to produce polymers.”