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white paper REPORT- SEMINAR (MATR 3100) Allowing Nature to Preserve Itself: Bioplastic

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In today's world, plastic being a hot issue that are constantly discussed among people across the globe. Plastics are said to be a problem to humankind, environment and also marine life. Many turtles were found dead, with pieces of plastics inside their throats. Plastic waste is a huge disaster to us. Hence, many authorities are starting to take initiatives to solve this problem. One of the promising alternatives is to produce natural based polymer composites using biodegradable polymer which are extracted from seaweed. Seaweed has its own uniqueness (low cost in land investment, good degradation rate) that can replace conventional plastic as it can be consumed safely by animals especially the marine life, which in a way means that it gives back to the nature, thus will preserve the environment from the said disaster.
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FINAL REPORT-
SEMINAR
(MATR 3100)
SEM 2, 2018/2019
Allowing Nature to Preserve Itself: Bioplastic
Dona Nur Afiqah Bt Don Ramlan Onn (1626676), Ahmad Ammar Bin Ahmad (1623521),
Zaidatul Shahira Binti Zahari (1715506), Wan Muhammad Zahier Bin Wan Asri (1625179),
Dr. Norshahida bt Sarifuddin
Department of Manufacturing and Materials Engineering, Kulliyyah of Engineering,
International Islamic University Malaysia, Jalan Gombak, Selangor Darul Ehsan
ABSTRACT:
In today’s world, plastic being a hot issue that are constantly discussed among people
across the globe. Plastics are said to be a problem to humankind, environment and also marine
life. Many turtles were found dead, with pieces of plastics inside their throats. Plastic waste is
a huge disaster to us. Hence, many authorities are starting to take initiatives to solve this
problem. One of the promising alternatives is to produce natural based polymer composites
using biodegradable polymer which are extracted from seaweed. Seaweed has its own
uniqueness (low cost in land investment, good degradation rate) that can replace conventional
plastic as it can be consumed safely by animals especially the marine life, which in a way
means that it gives back to the nature, thus will preserve the environment from the said disaster.
Keyword : bioplastic; packaging; seaweed; biodegradable polymer; plastic pollution
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CONTENTS:
Abstract……………………………………………………………………………………….1
1. Introduction………………………………………………………………………………...2
2. Literature Review…………………………..………………………………………………6
2.1 Extraction of Bioplastic….….……………….…………………………….…………….6
2.1.1 Alkali Treatment Extraction...……………….………………………………........6
2.1.2 Photo Bleaching Extraction………….……………………………………………6
2.2 Preparation of Bioplastic………………………………………………………………..6
2.3 Properties of The Extracted Bioplastic Film……..………………………………….….7
2.3.1 Physical Properties………………………………………………….……..............7
2.3.2 Mechanical properties……………………………………………………..……....7
2.3.3 Degradability………………………………………………………………………8
2.3.4 Thermal Properties………………………………………………………………...9
2.4 Application of Bioplastic Polymer…..……………………………………..….……10
3.Conclusion……………………………………………………………………..………….13
References…………………………………………………………………………………...13
1.0 INTRODUCTION:
Plastic is a very crucial product in daily lives of humans. “Biopolymers & Bioplastics
Review” (2018) mentioned that conventional plastic is made from non-biodegradable polymer,
such as oil, natural gas, and coal. It is used religiously by humans from household uses to
healthcare industries. It is also very important in food industries, as it is a material used to make
drinking straws and food packaging. However, plastic brings a lot of problems to the
environment. There are a lot of plastic wastage around the world. In fact, out of the 8.3 billion
metric tons that has been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Hence,
only 9% plastics have been recycled throughout the year (Parker, 2018). It is a worrying fact,
whereby only a small portion of plastics were recycled in comparison to a total number of
plastics that have been produced. So, a lot of plastics still exists until now. The question that
may arise among us is where do plastic waste go?
The plastics are being dumped in landfills, and the ocean. The plastic that were dumped
into the ocean will eventually sink to the bottom of the ocean. Based on Figure 1, the country
that pollute the ocean the most is happen to be in China, with more than 3.53 million tons of
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plastics being thrown into the ocean (McCarthy, 2019). Almost 10 million tons of plastics were
dumped into the ocean annually for only 10 countries, while there are 185 countries left that
were not listed.
Figure 1: Top 10 countries that pollute ocean the most with plastic wastage. McCarthy
(2019)
This scenario happened because most of the plastics are created for single use, where it
is used once and be thrown away. In 2015, a team from National Geographic found that 8
million metric tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean annually (Parker, 2015). The plastic
may lead to plastic pollution, and can also be dangerous to marine life, birds and fish.
To overcome this problem, one of the initiatives introduced was to replace normal
plastics by making bioplastic that are made from biomass sources, such as starch, seaweed and
food waste. By using bioplastics, the degradation become faster (Cho, 2017). Hence, this
bioplastic will overcome the problem created by normal plastic. Since bioplastic were made of
natural or organic things, it is not harmful to humans as well as the nature. Normal plastic used
a lot of chemical that are very toxicant and very dangerous to human, environment and animals.
Meanwhile, some bioplastics are also edible (Balance, 2018). So, it is not dangerous to marine
life. Figure 2 shows the complete sustainable life-cycle of bioplastic that illustrated the cycle
of the bioplastic, which can be related as ‘nature preserve itself’. From agricultural feedstock,
such as fruits or seaweed, and extraction need to be done until the plastic was produced. Then,
the biodegradable plastic will be degraded, and turn out to be agricultural feedstocks again
(Spendlove, 2018)
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Figure 2: Completely Sustainable life-cycle of Bioplastic. Spendlove (2018)
There are many resources or alternatives to be converted into biodegradable plastics,
for example the Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). The idea created from wastewater treatment
plants in Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium, where the recovery of PHA is used to produce
plastic as an intermediate material. A research found that the natural waste is blended in an
extensive tank where it begins to bacterially mature and disintegrated in water (Andrew Falcon,
2011). The coming about unsaturated fat rich fluid is exchanged and blended with more
microorganisms in a generation tank where the production of PHA is enhanced. PHA has been
proven to be a potential substitute material to conventional plastics due to its biodegradable
properties. Figure 3 shows the extraction process of PHA from wastewater.
Figure 3: The extraction of PHA from wastewater before converted into bioplastic. Falcon
(2011)
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The tensile strength of PHA fibre increased drastically when the isothermal
crystallization time was extended to more than 24 hours (Tanaka, 2007). According to
Bugnicourt et al. (2014), the characteristic of PHA are resistant to hydrolytic degradation, good
ultraviolet resistance, biocompatible, sinks in water, as it suits the anaerobic biodegradation in
sediments and nontoxic. Since it is biodegradable and will not harm living tissue, PHA is often
used to make medical device like sutures, patches and other disposable items such as shampoo
bottles, packaging materials, compostable bags, diapers, single-used food packaging (Ronald,
1997).
The other alternative is starch. Starch comprises two types of polysaccharides, that are
amylose and amylopectin. Amylose is a linear molecule with few branches, while amylopectin
is a highly branched molecule. Therefore, the amylose content contributes to bioplastic film
strength (Mali, 2002). To raise the film flexibility, plasticizers (polyols) are mixed together due
to their ability to reduce internal hydrogen bonding between polymer chains while increasing
molecular space of the starch. The starch is blended with thermoplastic polyesters to form the
biodegradable plastic and compostable products. The advantages of using starch are it is
inexpensive, biodegradable, abundant, carbon-neutral, renewable and edible. The starch is
usually produced to form plastic packaging film, magazine wrappings, bubble films and
composting bags.
Among the alternatives, the best resource to make a biodegradable plastic is seaweed
as it manages to lower the huge investment in the land, fertilisers and chemicals. There are
many benefits using seaweed. Seaweeds can grow without fertilisers unlike any other terrestrial
plants. Seaweeds are cost effective, limit the effect on the food chain and are chemical free.
Biodegradable plastics from seaweeds are relatively to be more resistant to microwave
radiation, less brittle and durable (Rajendran, 2012). It is also degradable by microorganism
consumption which is good to reduce the landfill waste and significantly provide a better eco-
friendly environment around the world.
However, the agar must be extracted first from the seaweed. So, a few processes and
preparation need to be done to make sure the agar can be produced from the seaweed to form
the bioplastic.
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2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 EXTRACTION OF BIOPLASTIC
Hii et al. (2016) reported that, there are two ways to extract agar from the red seaweed;
by alkali treatment extraction and photo-bleaching extraction. Hii et al. (2016) also elaborated
that “conventionally, native agar was extracted by leaching the red seaweed in hot water,
filtering the extract, and followed by concentrating the extract using freezing and thawing
processes to eliminate water.” (p.2). Apparently, this method of extraction is only suitable for
Gelidium species which do not have high gel strength agar. Bleaching is done to reduce the
colour of agar and the eco-friendly method of doing so is by photo bleaching as it does not use
any chemical that could harm the environment.
2.1.1 ALKALI TREATMENT EXTRACTION
Alkaline solution was used to treat the dried seaweed at 80℃ for approximately 2 hours.
The treated dried seaweeds are then rinsed thoroughly with water before placing it in a
deionized water at 20℃-25℃ while the pH of the sample are made sure to be in between 6.5
to 7.5. After that, the sample was heated for two hours at 120℃ before leaving the filtrate of
the sample at room temperature to cool down. After cooling, the sample is frozen overnight to
solidify it. Finally, the agar gel was defrosted and dried for 24 hours at 50℃ (Hii et al., 2016).
2.1.2 PHOTO BLEACHING EXTRACTION
This method is the same as the alkali treatment method except that it has an additional
method in between the third step of the adjustment of the pH and the step of the heating of
sample. The additional step consists of leaving the samples overnight while being soaked in
distilled water under the fluorescent light before undergoing the photo bleaching process for 8
hours. Following this step is the continuation of the steps similar to the alkali treatment method
explained in subtopic 4.0.1 (Hii et al., 2016)
2.2 PREPARATION OF BIOPLASTIC
Bioplastic film was prepared by solution casting. Sago starch and glycerol as plasticizer
are added to the raw materials which are alkali extracted agar (AEA) and photo bleaching
agar (PBA), in this case, to increase the strength and workability of the seaweed-based
bioplastic. Hii et al. (2016) explained the methods of preparation of the bioplastic film when
he wrote,
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Sago starch (6.8 g) was first gelatinized and homogenized in 240 mL distilled water
using overhead stirrer in water bath 90 ºC). Agar powder was then added to the
homogenized starch solution. Glycerol was mixed to the film-forming solution and
stirred for 5 minutes. The amount of dissolved components were added based on the
formulation from Wu et al. to ensure the surface of bioplastic film produced is clear,
smooth, flexible and without any phase separation. Then, the film forming solution was
casted on petri dish and dried at 50 ºC overnight (p. 4).
2.3 PROPERTIES OF THE EXTRACTED BIOPLASTIC FILM
2.3.1 PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
The Figure 4, shows the physical appearance of bioplastic film. Figure 4 (a), The AEA
bioplastic film reveal dry and uneven surface compare to the PBA bioplastic film Figure 4 (b).
These two figures of bioplastic film seem to have translucent appearance. Hii et al. (2016),
stated that “The film is rigid, soft and flexible even though the film are with air bubbles” (p.6).
The air bubble making them having low density (Hii et al., 2016).
Figure 4: Physical appearance of bioplastic film. Hii et al., (2016)
2.3.2 MECHANICAL PROPERTIES
The second properties of this bioplastic is the mechanical properties which are
measured by testing them through a tensile test. The test was done to find out the percentage
of elongation and the tensile strength of the bioplastics. The samples were prepared by cutting
them into a dumbbell shape the standard specimen shape for tensile testing and fixing the
ends to the tensile machine. From this test, it can be concluded that the photo bleached agar
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(PBA) has a higher tensile strength and % elongation than the alkali treated agar (AEA). This
means that the chemical interactions between the agar, sago starch and glycerol is stronger in
PBA in comparison to AEA. The factors that cause the dissimilarity in the tensile strengths of
the two bioplastics include the moisture behaviour, chemical structure, conformation and the
molecular weight. (Hii et al., 2016). The table of the results are given in Table 1:
2.3.3 DEGRADABILITY
Degradation of the sample are tested with a soil burial testing with 3 different locations
– dry; exposed to sun near and a building, shaded by building; soil is damped, and dry; exposed
to sun and near a shrub for 30 days to see how much weight loss percent had change (Hii et al.,
2016). These materials are degraded by the consumption of microorganisms in the soil. The
percentage weight loss of PBA is lower than AEA because of the packed structure of PBA
bioplastic film. Therefore, after 30 days PBA was half decomposed while AEA was completely
decomposed. The capability of the AEA to absorb water helps the rapid growth of
microorganism, which is one of the factors why the degradation rate of AEA is higher than
PBA. Referring to Figure 5, it shows that more air bubbles trapped in the AEA which it is one
of the factors that can increase the water absorption. Hii et al. (2016) stated that “increase of
hygroscopic characteristic of the bioplastic as the present of different extracted agar contribute
to degradation as it also promotes to the microorganism growth” (p. 11). The stronger bioplastic
(PBA) takes at least double the time to degrade in soil which is still acceptable as long as
degradation takes place at least in less than half a year.
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Fig 5: SEM image of bioplastic film. Hii et al., (2016)
2.3.4 THERMAL PROPERTIES
The TGA is carried out using a thermogravimetric analyzer. The sample was cut into
pieces from 2.5mg to 5 mg and the testing temperature is from 30℃ to 800 °C (Hii et al., 2016)
Thermogravimetric analysis usually used to identify the effects of thermal stability and
gives information about the temperature range that the film will start to decompose. Both of
the bioplastic film had weight loss which were small and in two distractive steps. Reasons of
the weight loss was mainly caused by the evaporation of moisture contain bioplastic film and
glycerol (Hii et al., 2016). When refer to Figure 6 (a) the first step is the lower temperature of
below 100℃, the AEA is starting to have its first weight loss at temperature in the range of
26℃ to 188℃. At the second step, the AEA starts to have major weight lost at the temperature
between 188 to 466°C. While for Figure 6 (b) the first step of the weight loss occurs at the
range of 26℃ to 192℃. The major weight loss at the second step happens at the temperature
between 192 to 506 °C. This shows that PBA bioplastic film’s weight loss is much higher than
the AEA’s (Hii et al., 2016. This phenomenon might be due to the thermal decomposition of
components of the bioplastic film. The thermogravimetric curve shows that AEA had higher
thermal stability with 14% residue compared to PBA which have 10% of residue. Even though
PBA had higher tensile strength it does not contribute to better thermal stability (Hii et al.,
2016). Hii et al. (2016) also had stated that “Thermal stability depends on many factors such
as the ability of molecule to discharge cation and network structure of molecules” (p. 9). Figure
7 shows the result of thermogravimetric curve that will give the result
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Figure 6 (a): Thermogravimetric Curve of AEA Bioplastic Film. Hii et al. (2016)
Figure 7(b): Thermogravimetric Curve of PBA Bioplastic Film. Hii et al. (2016)
In conjunction, there are few applications of bioplastic polymer that come from seaweed.
2.4 APPLICATIONS OF BIOPLASTIC POLYMER:
i) Biodegradable algae water bottles
A product designer graduate from the Iceland Academy of the Arts, used algae to create an
alternative to the plastic water bottle. He made the water bottles in a few processes. Firstly, he
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heats a mixture of agar powder and water slowly. Then, he cooled down the mixture rapidly
until the mixture turn to ice-cold mould (Pownell, 2018)
In general, the shape of the bottle will become normal when it is full water. But, when the
bottle empty, it started decomposing. The best thing about the bottle is it is safe to drink the
water inside the bottle, and it is also edible! Figure 8 shows the image of algae water bottle
after it was produced.
Fig 8. Biodegradable algae water bottles. Pownell (2018)
ii) Packaging derived from algae
A graduate from Vilnius Academy of Arts named Austeja Platukyte has designed and
developed biodegradable packaging made from algae to replace crude oil-based plastic
packaging. The packaging is made from only two ingredients: agar derived from algae, and
calcium carbonate strengthened with an emulsifying wax. The packaging was very interesting
since it is very low in the density, water resistant, and can be easily decomposed by burying it
in the soil (Pownell, 2018). Figure 9 shows the image of algae packaging which has been
prepared.
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Fig 9. Packaging from algae. Pownell (2018)
iii) Edible and Biodegradable Sachets Made from Seaweed
Evoware, a company that take initiative to solve plastic solution create sachets that were
made from seaweed. There are two types of designed created; which is Single layer seaweed-
based edible sachet for dry food products and Dammar-coated seaweed-based edible sachet for
liquid and semisolid food products. The interesting parts is the sachets is edible so that it is not
harmful to humankind (Mulyono, 2017)
Fig 10. Edible and Biodegradable Sachets from Evoware. Mulyono (2017)
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3.0 CONCLUSION
The application of biodegradable plastic is very important, since it solves a lot of
environmental problems. Marines life can be saved, and human’s health can be protected. The
improvement in the research of biodegradable polymer can solve the problems created by the
toxic conventional plastic. The excessive wastage landfills have been greatly worrying that the
need of biodegradable plastics is really matters to solve the problem. There have been a massive
amount of studies and researches to create a resource for the production of biodegradable
plastics and that not only seaweed can be used, yet there are also other alternatives like starch,
PHA and others. Scientists and researchers have done multiple tests to improve the
compatibility of seaweed every now and then to make it can be widely use around the world.
From our findings, the researchers used only agar and the agar need to be extracted in order to
prepare the sample using the proper methodology. From the article reviewed, many researches
had been done to improve the mechanical strength, thermal properties and degrability of the
specimen for the plastics to be suited for daily use. Other than that, agar based biodegradable
polymer are not only emphasized on packaging. Besides, this biodegradable polymer can also
be applied in medical and construction field.
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of Bioplastic Film [PDFfile]. Retrieved from
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malaysian_red_seaweed_as_potential_material_for_synthesis_of_bioplastic_film/links/585a2
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synthesis-of-bioplastic-film.pdf
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debris-environment/
14
McCarthy, N., & Richter, F. (2019, April 2015). Infographic: The Countries Polluting The
Oceans The Most. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/chart/12211/the-countries-
polluting-the-oceans-the-most/
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plastic-garbage-patches-science/
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-bioplastic-food-wrap-of-the-future
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Article
Full-text available
The main aim of this study was to identify the potential use of agar extracted from red seaweed, Gracilaria salicornia, collected from the coastal area of Malaysia as the raw material for synthesis of bioplastic film. Agar was extracted via two extraction methods: (1) alkali extraction method and (2) photo bleaching extraction method. The yields of agar by both of the methods were 9 to 11 %. The alkali extracted agar (AEA) and photo bleached agar (PBA) were incorporated as the raw materials for the formation of bioplastic films while sago starch and glycerol were added to increase workability. Physicochemical properties of the two bioplastic films were characterised. FTIR analysis confirmed the presence of agar in both plastic films with the presence of 3,6- anhydrogalactose residues and further indicated that the interactions of agar and sago starch were strong in both PBA and AEA films. The results showed that tensile strength and percent elongation of PBA film (3.067 MPa, 3.270 %) was higher than AEA film (2.431 MPa, 2.476 %). Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA; % residual weight) revealed that AEA film has higher thermal stability (14.80 %) than PBA film (10.27 %) while rheological results proved that both films exhibited non-Newtonian behaviors. The AEA film was completely decomposed after 30 days in the soil burial test. Results of current study show a wide range of future possibilities and commercial applications of AEA and PBA bioplastic films.
Article
Biopolymers from marine prokaryotes, both Bacteria and Archaea, offer a number of novel material properties and commercial opportunities. The characteristics of marine exopolysaccharides and melanins that enhance the survival ability of the organisms producing them can be exploited for a number of products ranging from emulsifiers to adhesives. In the prokaryotes, the polyhydroxyalkanoates form carbon-storage molecules, but their technological application is entirely different, serving as a potential base material for biodegradable plastics. Marine biopolymers are a significant and undeveloped biological resource.
Article
Low density open-cell foams were obtained from polylactic acid (PLA) and from blends of PLA with thermoplastic starch (TPS) using CO(2) as a blowing agent. Two unexpected features were found. First, a 2D cavitation process in the fractured cell walls was unveiled. Elliptical cavities with dimensions in the 100-300 nm range were aligned perpendicular to large cell cracks clearly exhibiting 2D crazing prior to macroscopic cell rupture. Secondly, a significant crystallization rate increase associated with the CO(2) foaming of PLA was discovered. While the PLA used in this study crystallized very slowly in isothermal crystallization, the PLA foams exhibited up to 15% crystallinity, providing evidence that CO(2) plasticization and the biaxial stretching upon foam expansion provided conditions that could increase the crystallization rate by several orders of magnitude.
A whopping 91% of plastic isn't recycled
  • Parker
Parker (2018, December 20). A whopping 91% of plastic isn't recycled. Retrieved from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trashdebris-environment/ 14
Infographic: The Countries Polluting The Oceans The Most
  • N Mccarthy
  • F Richter
McCarthy, N., & Richter, F. (2019, April 2015). Infographic: The Countries Polluting The Oceans The Most. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/chart/12211/the-countriespolluting-the-oceans-the-most/
Eight Million Tons of Plastic Dumped in Ocean Every Year
  • Parker
Parker (2015, February 13). Eight Million Tons of Plastic Dumped in Ocean Every Year. Retrieved from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150212-ocean-debrisplastic-garbage-patches-science/
The truth about bioplastics
  • R Cho
Cho, R. (2017, December 14). The truth about bioplastics. Retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2017-12-truth-bioplastics.html
Edible bioplastic -food wrap of the future?
Balance (2018, June 7). Edible bioplastic -food wrap of the future? Retrieved from https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ourchangingworld/audio/2018647913/edible -bioplastic-food-wrap-of-the-future
Can Bioplastics Be Safe for Animals and Humans to Eat?
  • T Spendlove
Spendlove, T. (2018, January 24). Can Bioplastics Be Safe for Animals and Humans to Eat? Retrieved from https://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/16386/Can-Bioplastics-Be-Safe-for-Animals-and-Humans-to-Eat.aspx
OI Engine, an innovation management software built on design thinking
  • N Mulyono
Mulyono, N. (2017, September 2). OI Engine, an innovation management software built on design thinking. Retrieved from https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/circulardesign/ideas/evoware-s-edible-sachets-and-food-wraps-directly-made-from-seaweed-asmain-material