Two takeaway food boxes
Look out for these in your local takeaway. Image by Notpla

Sustainable paper made from seaweed

Way back in 2019, you might have seen London Marathon runners gulping down Lucozade-filled capsules, pod and all. Made entirely from decomposable seaweed, cocktail-filled Ooho capsules have since wowed festival-goers. Notpla, the start-up behind the creation, has also partnered with Hellman’s and Just Eat to offer a range of sauces in the seaweed sachets. And now the team has launched the world’s first-ever sustainable paper made from seaweed.

I met Notpla spokesperson, Marta Quintana, online to discover more.

Why seaweed?

Seaweed is used for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and packaging. But while some goes to animal feedstock, around 80 percent of it goes to waste. In fact, our supplier produces 12 tonnes of waste seaweed a day!

Seaweed is really renewable. It can grow up to a meter a day, and it sequesters CO2. We wanted to use something that had already been produced to make our paper and seaweed was the perfect solution.

Right now, Notpla paper is made with 30% seaweed waste. But this year’s plan is to take it up to 50%. And we want to produce an entirely wood-free paper by 2024.

Is seaweed the solution for the future?

It’s not the whole solution. But it’s certainly part of it. People are always claiming to be ‘the most sustainable’ and that makes it hard to be critical. But there are lots of people doing different things, researching new materials. There is a boom happening in recycled paper but 20% of the demand can’t be met. That just means there is no holy grail. We need many solutions.

Notpla’s paper is made from its own seaweed waste. Working in partnership with Canopy, an organisation that conserves forests around the world, Notpla aims to reduce its use of virgin materials as much as possible.

Look out for Notpla sustainable paper packaging and compostable sauce sachets in your local takeaway restaurant.