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Student Turns Simple School Project Into Incredible Single-Use Plastic Alternative.

One of the biggest contributing factors to plastic pollution is the fact that using it is so convenient.

While harmful, single-use plastics like wraps, bags, and other packaging make life easier. They’re hard to give up without an alternative, but that’s where Lucy Hughes’ innovative solution comes in.

lucy hughes marinatex

The 24-year-old is a University of Sussex graduate whose school project in product design led to a brilliant invention. Lucy initially intended to figure out how to either reduce fish waste produced by the fishing industry or to turn it into something useful. What she came up with not only does both, but offers up a viable alternative to single-use plastics.

lucy creates marinatex

While studying various waste streams at a fish processing plant in England, Lucy made an important discovery. The fish skins and scales she touched felt surprisingly flexible and strong. That gave her a new idea. She began playing around in her kitchen with different combinations of fish waste and red algae. After more than 100 experiments, she knew she struck gold.

fish scales and red algae

Lucy had created MarinaTex, a biodegradable, eco-friendly, and stronger version of plastic. The bioplastic material takes just four to six weeks to break down in a home composting environment. It’s even edible! And according to Lucy, just one Altlantic cod can produce 1,400 MarinaTex bags.

In 2019, Lucy was named the James Dyson Award UK winner for her invention, which she hopes to eventually produce on a much larger scale. She’ll be using her prize money to fund further MarinaTex research and development.

“Plastic is an amazing material, and as a result we have become too reliant on it as designers and engineers,” she said. “For me, MarinaTex represents a commitment to material innovation and selection by incorporating sustainable, local, and circular values into design. As creators, we should not limit ourselves to designing to just form and function, but rather form, function, and footprint.”


Way to make the world a better place for all its inhabitants, Lucy! It’s people with bright minds like yours who’ll help keep our planet clean for future generations to come.

Learn more about MarinaTex in the video below, and share to spread the word!

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