Inventor Creates Viable Plastic Alternative from Fish Waste

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This year’s International James Dyson award went to the inventor of a plastic alternative that could be used to make sandwich bags and other small carriers. And it’s made out of fish.

Inventor Lucy Hughes, age 24, won the UK category, beating out 1,078 other entries. The prize money amounted to 30,000 pounds.

Hughes created the material called MarinaTex from cast-off fish bits. “For me, sustainability has never been an afterthought,” she told Radio 1 Newsbeat.


She studied product design at the University of Sussex and has always considered the environmental impact of all her designs. “Traditionally, we design in quite a linear way. You take material, make something with it, and then discard of it.”

MarinaTex was her final school project.

The James Dyson Foundation runs the annual International James Dyson Award, a student design competition. All designs entered should solve a problem.

Sir James Dyson said Hughes product solves two problems: One, single-use plastic, and two, fish waste.

This year saw the highest number of female entrants since it started in 2007.

Hughes’ material is innovative in that it will biodegrade in normal outdoor temperatures, meaning it could be disposed of in regular home compost bins.


Another issue, according to a United Nations report, is that 27 percent of all fish caught and brought inland never gets used.

This is could be the waste used, along with red algae and other components, to make the plastic alternative.

Hughes envisions her material replacing plastic for small bags for food and other single-use items. Her next step, after winning the award, is to see how it can be mass produced so it can start getting worked into products.

It looks to be a fantastic solution to some pressing problems. Let’s always be innovating!