UNITED KINGDOM: Fish scale bioplastic wins James Dyson Award for student design.

30. September 2019 | Material | via Dezeen.com


On the 19 September, the James Dyson Award declared MarinaTex the winner of the UK round of its 2019 competition. (credit: Dezeen.com)

MarinaTex is made from fish scales and skin — waste products that would usually be buried in landfill or incinerated, says Rima Sabina Aouf in her article on Dezeen.com. It is translucent and flexible, making it a candidate for single-use packaging such as bags and sandwich wrappers, and importantly, it will break down in home composts or food-waste bins within four to six weeks. Hughes developed MarinaTex as her final-year project for the product design course at the University of Sussex, having set out to create something that would have an environmental benefit.

"I didn't want to use virgin natural materials so I challenged myself with starting with a waste stream," said Hughes. "For me a good design is something that bridges the gap between behaviours, business and our planet."

Unlike some current biodegradable plastics, Hughes' bio-material would not require the establishment of a separate waste collection infrastructure for its disposal. Another benefit to the product is that it is low-energy to produce and, since its based on waste, doesn't strain the earth's natural resources. The UK Sea Fish Industry Authority calculates that the country produces nearly 500,000 tonnes of waste annually through fish processing, while Hughes says the waste from just one Atlantic cod is enough to produce 1,400 MarinaTex bags.

In search of an organic binding agent for her prototype of the sheet material, Hughes looked locally to the Sussex coastline where she found agar – a gelatinous substance obtained from the cell walls of some species of red algae. The final design is the result of more than 100 experiments to refine the bioplastic mixture, most carried out on the kitchen stove in her student accommodation.


Fish scale bioplastic wins UK James Dyson Award for student design.