“Eco-Plastic” Made From Fish Waste Wins International James Dyson Award


Lucy Hughes, graduate from Sussex University, UK, has just won the James Dyson Award’s international prize for her invention – an eco-friendly, biodegradable, plastic alternative made from fish waste.

Lucy’s invention, called ‘MarinaTex’ is a transparent film made from fish waste. Her inspiration for the project was to help fight the growing problem of plastic pollution and food waste at the same time.

Lucy was still in school when she created MarinaTex as part of her product design degree course.

Her innovative product is made using waste products left behind by the fishing industry – mainly fish scales and skin. The proteins in these parts of the fish are crucial in the production of her plastic alternative. Lucy admits that it took almost 100 experiments before she perfected the recipe. She even used her own kitchen for a lot of the work!

Credit: James Dyson Award

The end result is a compostable replacement to single-use plastic and is being hailed as a ‘groundbreaking’ invention. The most impressive quality of the product is that it solves two problems at the same time: the nuisance of single-use plastic and fish waste.

Industry experts believe MarinaTex could considerably reduce our reliance on single use plastic packaging.

According to global figures, almost 40% of plastic produced for packaging is used once and then simply thrown away. MarinaTex is an eco-friendly alternative. The product will break down in food waste bins or a home compost within four to six weeks.

Credit: James Dyson Award / University of Sussex

Hughes’ invention, MarinaTex, won the James Dyson Award’s top national prize in the UK earlier this year. There were 1,079 top national and runner-up winners from 28 different countries that then competed for the international prize.

The James Dyson Award challenges young people to “design something that solves a problem.” and it is open to all students and recent graduates in industrial design, product design, and engineering.

Photo Credit: University of Sussex

Sir James Dyson’s said:

“Young engineers have the passion, awareness, and intelligence to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. Ultimately, we decided to pick the idea the world could least do without. MarinaTex elegantly solves two problems: the ubiquity of single-use plastic and fish waste.”

And the James Dyson Award wasn’t her only award this year. Earlier this year, her product won a prrize from Plus X in Brighton, who have pledged to provide her with a workspace and mentoring for six months.

Hughes said:

“Plastic is an amazing material and as a result, we have become too reliant on it. It makes no sense that we’re using plastic for products that have a life cycle of less than a day.

I’m excited to have the chance to undertake further research and development to explore all possible uses.”

Hughes is part of the new generation that instead of harming the planet, wants to be a part of the solution to making it better. She plans to be part of the reason that there won’t be more plastic in our oceans than fish by weight within three decades.

Lara Ramirez
Lara is a passionate traveler and writer and actively seeks to draw attention to current world affairs and ways we can protect our planet. She is a free-thinker and loves to share her wealth of experience and knowledge in the hope of entertaining and to broaden your mind.

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