Colorful Compostable Bioplastics

Particularly concerned that we commonly allocate an indestructible material to packaging that is quickly disposed of, the design community is experimenting with bioplastics made from organic materials as diverse as algae and seafood shells that easily break down.

From the designer foursome called Shellworks, to Chile-based designer Margarita Talep, to Italian designer Emma Sicher, we are seeing a huge and urgent interest from the design world to find an alternative to single use plastic.

We are often asked to provide disposables at our parties. We are aware of the impact that this puts on our environment, and thus are thrilled at the idea that designers are working to find colorful ways to lighten the carbon footprint.

Bio-fabrication will be an important part of future industries. However creating new materials is only the first step… now how do we get industries to adopt these different solutions to a huge environmental problem, and implement change with awareness? Well, let’s start by spreading the word that we want these products more readily available!

Shellworks hopes that by developing their own scalable manufacturing methods and processes that are tailored to how the material behaves, the chitosan bioplastic could become a viable alternative for many of the plastic products we use today and therefore more widely adopted by other designers.

Chile-based designer Margarita Talep’s material only includes natural matter, including the dyes used to color it, which are extracted from the skins of fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, purple cabbage, beetroot, and carrot. And thus Talep has created a sustainable, biodegradable alternative to single-use packaging, using raw material extracted from algae.

Sicher’s From Peel to Peel project, makes eco-friendly food packaging and containers by fermenting microbial cellulose, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts – also known as scoby – with fruit and vegetable leftovers. Experimenting with different fruits and vegetables like apples, potatoes, beetroot, grape pomace, and beer hops to create different colors and textures of the material.

TJ Girard is a sought-after food designer and creative consultant, celebrated for staging theatrical, interactive food + beverage experiences. She now resides in California where her creativity is solar powered! TJ writes the Design Milk column called Taste.