Tackling Indonesia’s trash problem with seaweed

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In Indonesia, startup Evoware is looking to combat plastic waste by producing edible, biodegradable seaweed-based packaging.

Evoware cofounder David Christian tells DogoNews the company was founded to combat Indonesia’s high volume of plastic waste pollution, which is second only to China.

Unlike corn, another common feedstock for bioplastics production, seaweed does not require significant inputs of water, fertilizers and space. Seaweed is also productive—40 tons of seaweed can be grown on a baseball field—and reduces ocean acidity by absorbing carbon dioxide. There is also a surplus of seaweed, as Indonesian farmers harvest more than they can sell.

Evoware says the seaweed packaging contains no chemicals, is safe to consume, and has no taste. It is currently being used to wrap fast food items and can be used for instant noodle seasoning and single-serve sachets of instant coffee.

Consumer adoption remains a challenge, however. “The awareness, understanding, and sense of urgency to minimize the use of single-use plastic is still very low,” Christian says. “This makes our bioplastic seem irrelevant and unnecessary.”