Altier LUMA
3D Printable Algae Could Be A Green Replacement For Plastic

Plastic is pretty much the bane of green existence, but its low cost and high versatility have kept it in production for decades—and into the foreseeable future, too. But as more and more people work to find alternatives to the polluting material, a viable solution may have been found at the intersection of technology and algae. 

Dutch designers Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros have created a 3D-printable bioplastic made from algae. Able to be printed into virtually any shape, this new substance could finally be the viable alternative to plastic researchers and environmentalists have been searching for for years. 

The design duo create their bioplastic first by cultivating the easy-to-grow, green and abundant algae in a lab. The algae is then dried and processed into a liquid bioplastic, which can then be used to 3D print any number of objects, from shampoo bottles and tableware to trash cans. The innovative process could completely replace products made from fossil fuels, according to Inhabitat

Altier LUMA

Replacing plastic with algae is revolutionary on multiple levels. Of the 8.3 billion tons of plastic that have been produced worldwide to date, 6.3 billion tons have been processed into waste. 79 percent of that is sitting in landfills, where it takes up to 600 years to decompose, further releasing pollutants into the atmosphere. 10 million tons make it into the ocean every year, creating microplastics that kill marine life.  

Altier LUMA

Not only does plastic clog our landfills and waterways, the production of plastic is itself a major pollutant. As World Counts reports, "when plastic is produced, it’s made from toxic materials such as benzene and vinyl hydrochloride. It's destined to be toxic from birth to forever. These chemicals are known to cause cancer, and the manufacturing byproducts contaminate our air and soil. The type of plastic that is the major source of dioxin is PVC."

Algae, on the other hand, is a natural pollutant cleanser—it soaks up CO2 from the atmosphere everywhere it grows, which has led it to be used in many ways to clean the environment. This includes an algae dome that creates oxygen while growing food; a highway lined with tubes of algae to mitigate car exhaust; and, just recently, colorful, edible straws meant to replace plastic ones.

With its ability to not only cut the waste produced by plastic but also reverse its affect, the Dutch designers believe algae bioplastic is what we need to save the environment.

Altier LUMA

“Algae is equally interesting for making biomass because it can quickly filter CO2 from the sea and the atmosphere,” the designers told Inhabitat. “Everything that surrounds us – our products, houses and cars – can be a form of CO2 binding. If we think in these terms, makers can bring about a revolution. It’s about thinking beyond the carbon footprint: instead of zero emissions we need ‘negative’ emissions.”

CommunityThis College Wants To Be Fossil Fuel Free By 2019

A government mandate has forced the community college system to upgrade their energy systems, but they've actually been wanting to do it for decades, anyway.

1 day ago
NewsAdidas Sold 1 Million Pairs Of Sneakers Made From Ocean Plastic In 2017

Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted announced the company was able to sell one million of their new sustainable shoe line last year and that should grow by five times this year.

1 day ago
HomeHow To Create An Upcycled Vase With Nontoxic Paints

This simple DIY tutorial just requires an old wine bottle, tape, and paint.

4 days ago
CommunityThese Innovative Eco-Gyms Bring The Outdoors Inside

Biofit designs indoor gyms that bring in the outdoors. With eco-conscious materials such as bamboo, nontoxic paint, and tons of plants throughout their workout spaces, these gyms are unlike most you may have seen.

4 days ago
Stay Green
Sign up for our daily newsletter