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Producing plastic water bottles isn’t cheap, and disposing of them can be difficult, especially as they won’t fully degrade on their own. But a London startup called Skipping Rocks may have a solution: Ooho, a water pouch that’s both biodegradable and edible.
Skipping Rocks wants to stop the 1 billion plastic bottles being dumped into oceans every year, and the 300 million kg of CO2 being emitted, by replacing the containers with its own membrane structure. It comes from a seaweed extract, and while it's said to be tasteless, flavorings and colorings could be added to make it more palatable.
“When people try it for the first time, they want to eat it because it’s part of the experience,” company co-founder Pierre Paslier told Fast Company.
In development for two years, the balls are created by dipping a block of ice in a solution of calcium chloride and brown algae, and the membrane forms around it. An outer layer can be peeled off to keep the exterior clean for eating. You can tear a hole in one and pour the water into your mouth, or simply consume the entire thing.
Each pouch costs just two cents to produce, creates five times fewer CO2 emissions than plastic bottles, and requires nine times less energy, according to the company.
Assuming you don’t want to consume the organic membrane after drinking the water it contains, you can throw it away, safe in the knowledge that it’ll degrade naturally in under six weeks.
Skipping Rocks is currently raising funds on CrowdCube, where it has now reached £800,000 (just over $1 million) - double its original target - from almost 1000 investors.
It can’t be denied that Ooho is an ingenious product, and one that would no doubt do well at the large scale outdoor events that Skipping Rocks is currently marketing it towards. But whether it eventually replaces water bottles entirely is another matter.