In the United Kingdom, Skipping Rocks Lab launched a project, called UCUP, to use brown seaweed as feedstock for a sustainable paper to-go cup. By replacing the usual biodegradable or compostable polylactic acid (PLA) paper cups with seaweed, they can compost much quicker – in only four to six weeks. Seaweed is also cheap and easy to harvest, growing up to half a meter per day, according to Rodrigo García González, co-founder and co-CEO of Skipping Rocks Lab.
González said, “PLA is compostable but only in industrial compostable sites, so you need to identify that cup and bring it to a special facility that is going to apply specific pressure, heat and ionic liquids in order for it to start to decompose. If not, nothing is going to happen.”
UCUP completed its first stage of research and is now planning to develop, test and commercialize the cups.