POC: is a new seagrass-based food packaging material which was designed to reduce plastic packaging waste. The biodegradable material is made from seagrass fiber and a binder from the extract of the fiber. Still in a development stage, it has to be tested if it fullfills all EU regulations for food packaging.
The seagrass fiber is a waste product of the ocean and can be collected on the beaches of the Mediterranean. Subsequently, the binder is extracted from the fiber and mixed with intact fibers. The mass is pressed into a metal mold until it is completely dried.
The material has been tested in various independent materials labs and has good antibacterial and structural properties. In this way, the material can replace plastic food packaging without polluting the environment. A detailed material research has been conducted, which includes the research on seagrass of the last 10 years. Different plants were examined for their contents and tested if they were suitable for a bio-composite. Experts from the business sector and from universities were consulted, which provided in-depth specialist knowledge. Afterwards potential users were surveyed for their opinion in a quantitative survey.
The main obstacle to the project was the search for a suitable binder that holds the fiber together and does not simultaneously remove its excellent properties. Especially the extraction process and the first tests of controlled shaping were particularly difficult.
This project is about building links across disciplines to bring together expertise and promote the power of design and its role in society. The outcome should react to the problems and threats of our society and our relationship to food. With a global food waste of approximately 1.3b tonnes and 15 m tonnes of food related plastic waste a year it is our responsibility as designers to solve this massive problem by new material approaches.
Text provided by designer