“Ooho” is not an exclamation, but an invention: it is a special edible and biodegradable pack that wants to replace single-use plastic, conceived by the London start-up Notpla.
Designed for packaging food and drinks, Ooho is made of an innovative material made from brown seaweed and other plants. In practice, Ooho is a kind of very flexible membrane, suitable for creating single-dose bags that can contain sauces, finger food, water, fruit juices, cold coffees or even cocktails.
This material naturally biodegrades from 4 to 6 weeks without leaving traces. And if you want, you can even eat it! The membrane is in fact edible: which means no waste, no bins and no recycling.
Already tested at events, festivals and sporting events, Ooho could be the solution to eliminate the expanses of glasses and plastic bottles that usually remain on the ground after such events. The technology is also pioneered by Just Eat in the UK, which is using it for take away sauce packets.
Ooho’s secret is brown seaweed, one of nature’s most renewable resources. In fact, brown seaweed grows up to one meter per day, does not compete with food crops, does not require fresh water or fertilizers and contributes to the deacidification of the oceans.
But how does Ooho work? For example, how is water packaged?
First, a sphere of water freezes; then it is immersed in a solution of calcium chloride, in order to obtain a kind of gelatin. Afterwards, the sphere is covered with brown seaweed extract, which will form an additional layer of reinforcement. The membrane thus created is edible, hygienic, tasteless and 100% biodegradable.
Notpla is a creation of Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez and Pierre Paslier, two students and researchers from Imperial College London.
After founding Skipping Rock Lab in 2013, the two researchers obtained the support of Climate KIC, an European institution that offers support tools for eco-sustainable innovation. In 2017, the company raised £ 850,000 in 3 days on the Crowdcube crowdfunding platform, which enabled it to set up a production center in London. Later, the company transformed into Notpla and received investments from Sky Ocean Ventures, which accelerated its development.