Plastic waste is clogging landfills and strangling the earth’s waterways – but thankfully, green design is here to save the world. Dutch designers Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros have created a bioplastic made from algae that can be 3D printed into virtually any shape – and could finally provide the world with a viable green alternative to plastic.
Klarenbeek and Dros begin by cultivating algae, which is then dried and processed into a liquid bioplastic that can be used to 3D print objects. This algae polymer can be used to manufacture any number of products from shampoo bottles and tableware to trash cans. The innovative process could completely replace products made from fossil fuels.
The designers believe that products made from algae (which absorbs carbon dioxide during photosynthesis) could revolutionize the manufacturing world. “Algae is equally interesting for making biomass because it can quickly filter CO2 from the sea and the atmosphere,” said the duo. “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.”
Algae bioplastic isn’t the duo’s first foray into innovative materials. A few years ago Klarenbeek created the world’s first 3D-printed chair made from living fungus, and the team has worked with Ecovative to develop a line of DIY mycelium products.
Photography by Antoine Raab and Florent Gardin, courtesy of atelier LUMA