Planet Earth has a serious plastic problem.
In America alone, we used 50 billion plastic bottles last year. Factoring in a measly 23% recycling rate, that means about 38 billion plastic bottles are sitting in a landfill somewhere, where it will take them literally centuries to naturally decompose. Compounding the already massive plastic problem, 17 million barrels of oil were burned to produce the plastic that became our beloved bottles.
With all these facts in mind, one London-based startup is working overtime to shift the landscape of liquid packaging.
Skipping Rocks Lab has created an ingenious solution to the world’s plastic bottle addiction – edible water pods they call the “Ooho!”
The thin, see-through membranes of these little water blobs are made using an all natural seaweed extract. They’re fully biodegradable, will naturally decompose within 4-6 weeks if left unused, and are cheaper (and more environmentally friendly) to produce than plastic.
Skipping Rocks Lab’s water bubble project began as the brainchild of a group of college students from the UK’s Royal College of Art and the Imperial College of London. They developed and introduced the concept way back in 2013, but have been furiously crowdsourcing funds to finance the project and get it into the production phase ever since.
Check out a promo video for the Ooho! concept below, and visit Skipping Rocks Lab’s website to get more in-depth information about the amazing futuristic solutions they’re developing.
The company is targeting both outdoor events and cafes. “Where we see a lot of potential for Ooho is outdoor events–festivals, marathons, places where basically there are a lot of people consuming packaging over a very short amount of time,” says Paslier.
Of course, that’s assuming that people embrace the idea of drinking from a squishy, jellyfish-like blob. The designers say that people have embraced the novelty in tests. And in some parts of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, consumers have embraced similar (but trash-producing) plastic water sachets.
At a cafe, the packaging can be made on-site, so it also eliminates the need to truck bottled water long distances. “The process that we’re developing allows for them to be made on the spot, just before consumption,” he says. “If you think of a coffee machine in the cafe that makes the coffee just before you drink it, we’re working on something that would be about that size.” At events, the same process could happen from the back of a food truck. Each ball of water can be produced in seconds.
Since the Ooho doesn’t have a lid, the portions are typically small. “Once you bite a hole in it, you have to finish it in one go,” Paslier says. “We found that the ideal volume is a sip to a few sips depending on the application.” At a marathon, the size might be 50 milliliters, or a couple of sips; at a Starbucks, it might be 150 milliliters.
“We’re looking at other waste streams that could potentially benefit from having natural materials being thrown at them,” Paslier says.