Edible water bubble Ooho to replace plastic bottles

That plastic bottles are a major problem is probably nothing new. Every day, countless bottles are discarded after only one or a few uses. Some countries battle this problem by charging a packaging deposit, but that doesn’t ensure none of the bottles end up in the environment. Of course, water or other beverages need a type of packaging, but what if you could take recycling those out of the equation? Company Skipping Rocks Lab has developed a bubble-like packaging called Ooho for water that you can eat, made from algae.

The packaging is made from a natural seaweed extract. The edible membrane can be flavoured (minty fresh, elderflower, blackcurrant, orange, ginger shots, and hot shots) and/or coloured if desired. However, while you can eat it, you don’t have to. The material biodegrades in just 4 to 6 weeks, the same time it takes for a piece of fruit to decompose. The bubbles have a shelf life of a few days, though whether or not they need to be refrigerated is unclear.

The packaging material is cheaper to produce than plastic. In comparison, it produces 5 times less CO2 and costs 9 times less energy than to make PET, thus limiting the environmental impact.

Aside from water, the membrane can also be used for soft drinks, spirits, and cosmetics (though if the latter is used, you might want to think twice about eating the bubble).

The bubbles have a ‘bite-size’ in three sizes, 20, 55, and 150 ml. However, like a can, you have to drink (or eat) the bubble in one go, without the possibility to put it away for later. The team is developing a commercial machine to produce Oohos quickly and in large quantities. The machine will also be able to make Oohos that are bigger and in different shapes.

For sporting events, Ooho seems perfect, as these commonly leave huge heaps of waste plastic bottles. With no packaging, there is no waste (or at least biodegradable waste if people don’t eat the membrane).

There is one drawback about the design: hygiene. Since there is no packaging, people might want to wash the bubbles before consumption, like they would an unpeeled apple. However, on the photos, it appears that the bubble can also have a double layer of the seaweed material, of which the outer layer would serve as protection.

For another biodegradable, though inedible, water bottle made from algae, click here.

Photos: Skipping Rock Lab