WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
What if you could just eat the packaging a product came in?
Plastic packaging is a scourge and today it’s swamping our planet with micro-plastics that are in our air, water, and even in us, so naturally there are now a lot of companies trying to replace it as the material of choice. One of these is sustainable startup Notpla who have created an edible, biodegradable packaging made from seaweed and plants that’s designed to replace plastic.
Notpla’s name is a shortening of “not plastic,” referring to the fact that while it looks plastic, the product is actually made from seaweed and plants. Branding agency Superunion coined Notpla’s name as well as a visual identity for the startup. This includes an animated logo that resembles a vessel filling up with water that is only visible when “filled” – as is the case with clear packaging.
“Notpla is a seaweed-based, sustainable packaging startup on a mission to make packaging as we know it disappear naturally,” said Superunion senior creative director Mark Wood.”Every year, 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the oceans. The world’s behaviours need to change when it comes to single-use plastic,” he explained.
According to Notpla’s designers, the material is entirely biodegradable and edible and can be composted at home in four to six weeks. So far, the packaging has been used to create thin films and coating for cardboard takeaway boxes, as well sachets for condiments.
Notpla says seaweed is a sustainable material from which to create packaging because the underwater plant does not need to compete with food crops for land, and also sequesters carbon dioxide – the process of removing it from the atmosphere.
The startup is also behind Ooho, which are sachets made from Notpla designed to be consumed by runners during sporting events. In 2019, Ooho was trialled at the London Marathon where runners were offered the sachets, which were filled with Lucozade sports drink, while they ran.
The Notpla designers have also created smaller-scale versions of Ohoo that are intended to hold liquids such as toothpaste, coffee and suncream.
“The ultimate aim is to stop billions of single-use plastic packaging from ever being made by providing a positive alternative,” Wood said. “We believe Notpla has the potential to turn the tide on plastic waste.”