If you consider yourself an eco-friendly individual and you are in Ubud, Bali this coming weekend, then you might want to search for Bruxel and taste their waffles. But, the tasty waffle is not the highlight of this article. It’s the wrapper that comes with the waffle.
Bruxel is one of the first users of a new packaging system made from seaweed. Here's the surprising part: the wrapper can be eaten and it's also nutritious. If that's not your thing, then it simply biodegrades once it ends up in the trash bin.
This new packaging system is made by Evoware, a startup company in Indonesia. According to David Christian, Evoware's co-founder, their goal is to create a cleaner world by eliminating plastic waste.
According to statistical data, Indonesia is second to China when it comes to creating plastic waste that ends up in the ocean. Most of this plastic waste comes from single-use packaging. Four Indonesian rivers are among the most polluted in the world. Garbage dumps around the area of Bali are also in constant overflow.
If you examine seaweed as a material, it makes a lot of sense. Aside from the fact that seaweed biodegrades naturally and easily, it also offers a lot of other benefits. For example, as seaweed grows, it absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere. One football field is able to produce 40 tons of seaweed per year, absorbing around 20.7 tons of CO2.
Unlike corn, which is also used for making bioplastic, it doesn't need fertilizers or other expensive resources. Seaweed is very abundant. In fact, Indonesian seaweed farmers are currently producing more seaweed than they can sell.
Evoware is not disclosing how the seaweed plastic processing is done, but the company assures that their plastic is safe for consumption. Also, the processing does not make use of chemicals. Seaweed is high in vitamins and fiber. Additionally, it's a food that’s considered as halal, which is important as the majority of Indonesians are Muslims.
Since Evoware's new packaging dissolves in hot water, the company is targeting the manufacturers of instant noodles. The plan is to replace the plastic sachet that holds the seasoning. Rather than opening the plastic and creating waste, you can simply throw the entire seasoning with its seaweed packaging into the boiling water. As the seaweed melts, it won’t have a noticeable effect on the taste of the soup.
Another target is the packaging for instant coffee, which is very popular in Indonesia. Evoware is also making packaging for sandwiches and burgers.
As of the moment, the company has two major hurdles. The first major problem is the price. The price of creating the seaweed plastic is higher compared to the traditional plastic.
However, Evoware says that it can bring down the price once they reach full production mode. The other issue is the Indonesian population itself. Most Indonesians are not concerned about being "green”. This is the reason why Evoware is trying to target other countries too.