Ooho makes packaging disappear, litter-ally.

June 18th 2019

Would it be possible to create a new kind of plastic? A non-polluting, natural material that we can start using in the exact same way? Well, that’s what Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez and Pierre Paslier asked themselves back in 2013. And now - just 6 years later - their environmentally friendly, fully compostable and even edible material replaced the regular plastic water bottles for 40.000 runners at the London Marathon.

How cool! Skipping Rocks Lab - the company behind Ooho - definitely deserves to be written about in this Inspirations blog post.

What is it?

So, ooho is a completely compostable and even edible new kind of ‘plastic’, but what is it made of? To tell you the whole story, let’s first tell you a bit about how Rodrigo and Pierre came to the idea.

Both were studying Innovation Design Engineering in London and found that there had to change something when it came to the traditional way of (plastic) packaging. Especially when it comes to single-use packaging - like for most food and beverages - most producers just pick the cheapest alternative, which is plastic.

Rodrigo and Pierre started looking into new, innovative ways of packaging, made of natural materials, that could compete with plastics not only in terms of usability but also in costs. Quite a challenge, you would say. Luckily, considering their backgrounds in design engineering and the labs at the Imperial College in London, they could try and test different materials and work together with chemists and chemical engineers.

Now, what turned out to be the best material strength-, sustainability- and cost-wise? Seaweed! Which is edible, indeed. Think of sushi and agar-agar. But we had no idea it was strong enough to be used as packaging.

Why is it cool?

Turns out it is. The people of Skipping Rocks Lab succeeded in creating a membrane out of brown seaweed and called it ooho. It’s is a thin, clear bubble that can currently hold up to 150 ml of liquid. Meaning that it’s an alternative for small portions of water - like at a marathon, like we’ve mentioned before - or pouches of sauce. .

The material does not have a taste or colour of its own (but can have!) and completely dissolves when it contacts any other kind of moisture or soil, which makes it home-degradable as you can just eat it or leave it outside. We think that this is very cool because in this way it's applicable almost everywhere. Think of a fun way to add different flavours to a cocktail, or a handy way to bring water with you on a hiking trip.

We think the coolest of all, though, is in the material. Using seaweed - thus, something that grows in (and on) ocean water - means no need for fresh water and no land that has to be used. Also, seaweed actually cleans the ocean (it de-acids) instead of littering it. Also, seaweed is a rapid growing plant.All of this combined makes it a relatively cheap material. A real game-changing source for packaging, if you’d ask us.

Does it have future growth potential?

Absolutely! Why? Well, Ooho! is just the first of the new, sustainable, packagings made by Skipping Rocks Lab. The team, that now consists of 17 people, called their technique NOTPLA (not plastic) and ever since 2013, they worked hard on raising money in order to set up a manufacturing hub in London.

Here, they are now working on NOTPLA liners (a biodegradable coating for cardboard takeaway materials), NOTPLA nets to carry (food) products, NOTPLA heat sealable films, NOTPLA non-food storing sachets and of course: Ooho!’s that can hold more ml’s.

All to show people that it’s time to pass on plastics, to help and make plastic packaging disappear for real.

Cool, right? What do you think of this material?

Here at Queal, we’re currently looking into more sustainable packaging possibilities. Especially when it comes to our pouches, as they aren’t recyclable at the moment due to an aluminium coating on the inside. If you want to read more about this, please visit our Improvements Timeline.

Visit the Improvements Timeline.