By Aditya Kapur
In today’s day and age of global warming and drastic environmental changes, people around the world are witnessing a large scale attraction towards consumerism, thereby, completely neglecting the need of the hour, environmental sustainability and taking care of our planet Earth. An example of this situation is that of the use of plastic bottles which is used to package a variety of beverages.
I would first want to discuss the gravity of the situation regarding theses plastic bottles. It is shocking that only 1 in 5 bottles are recycled and it takes between 400 and a 1000 years for a plastic bottle to completely decompose. The environmental cost which we have to pay for the manufacturing of these bottles is much higher than the monetary cost. Studies have shown that it requires 3 times the amount of water to manufacture a plastic bottle than the amount of water it contains. In addition to this, the bottle manufacturing industry requires approximately 17 million barrels of oil to manufacture all the plastic bottles which are produced in a year. All that fuel can be used to run 1 million cars for an entire year!
No doubt, the situation we face seems to be impossible to tackle. Here is where the ideas of science and technology play a major role in helping us find a viable solution. This is where Skipping Rocks Lab’s (a part of the climate program of the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) and the scientific team of the Imperial College, London) new initiative Ooho! comes into the picture. Ooho! is a spherical, flexible packaging for liquids made from plants and seaweed. It is biodegradable and is decomposed in 4-6 weeks, the amount of time it takes to decompose fruit. It is edible and the material used to manufacture it is cheaper than plastic. Another added benefit of this product is that it uses 5 times less CO2 in its manufacturing process and uses 9 times less energy than required to produce PET (Polyethylene terephthalate).
Thus, Ooho! is the product of the future, it shows the path to environmental sustainability and how science can make changes to reverse mistakes of the past. I hope that in the time to come, projects such as this are able to continue the revolution and help actualise these visionaries’ aim which is to stop 1 billion plastic bottles from polluting the world’s oceans and to stop millions of kilograms of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere.