Algae-based water bottle decomposes when empty

Product design student comes up with a 100 per cent natural alternative to the plastic water bottle.

From the Series

Iceland Academy of Arts’ product design student Ari Jónsson has created a biodegradable bottle made from algae. The student designed the product in response to the continued use and disposal of water bottles, which can take as many as 1 000 years to decompose. The algae-based bottle was premiered at the recent DesignMarch festival in Reykjavik.

To make the product, Jónsson used a powdered byproduct of algae called agar and combined it with water to form a jelly-like substance. The substance is then heated and decanted into a bottle-shaped mould where it chills in icy water before it solidifies in a refrigerator for a few minutes. Once set, the jelly can be removed from the mould as a solid water bottle.

The biodegradable bottle retains its shape while it is filled with water but slowly starts to decompose when it is empty. Because the bottle is 100 per cent natural, users could even nibble on the leftover vessel if they like its gelatinous taste. Apparently agar is often used as a substitute for gelatine in vegetarian or vegan desserts.

“I feel there is an urgent need to find ways to replace some of the unreal amount of plastic we make, use, and throw away every day,” says Jónsson. “Why are we using materials that take hundreds of years to break down in nature to drink from once and then throw away?” he adds.