Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada’s westernmost province are studying using kelp from B.C.’s coastline and wood fibres from its forests to fight plastic pollution.
Bioform Technologies, one of two B.C. companies at the university, is exploring ways to reduce the use of fossil fuel-based plastics.
The company has produced a bioplastic product from kelp and wood fibre that can be used for beverage lids and takeout containers. The material can also be used in mulch film which retains moisture in soil.
“Most plastic mulch is made from polyethylene (PE) because it’s cheap and durable, but PE can stay in the soil for decades and cause significant environmental contamination,” explained MacKenzie. “As well, food packaging waste is a long-standing problem — tonnes of beverage lids end up in the landfill because they’re almost impossible to recycle.”