Dr. Laurie Hoffmann

When is the last time you went to a fast-food restaurant and threw away packaging that was only used for about 5 minutes during the transfer from producer to consumer? Yesterday? Last week? It probably wasn’t very long ago. The trend to consume “to-go”, “ready-to-eat” or “convenience” food has increased over the last years and, as a result, the amount of single-used packaging materials as well. Most of these packaging materials are made of non-biodegradable materials that have negative impacts on the environment. The modern consumer is looking for healthy and environmentally-friendly food products, including the surrounding packaging. Therefore, new, innovative and sustainable packaging concepts need to be established. Macroalgae, or seaweeds, may provide a renewable, sustainable solution. They are plentiful, natural, diverse, functional, and even edible. In our Mak-Pak project, we screened local seaweeds to find out which ones could be used to make a packaging material for the to-go food industry. Then we grew them in the lab and tested how they could be made into packaging. Here we tell you the story of how, together with the Hochschule Bremerhaven and the restaurant chain Nordsee, a biodegradable, edible seaweed package was born.