Globally, 8.8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Plastic waste is not only a risk for human health and the environment, but also for the marine wildlife, such as fish and sea birds, who commonly eat plastic waste or get killed by being trapped in plastics. The EU has pledged to make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2030 and Zero Waste Scotland aims to recycle 70% of all plastic waste by 2025.
Researchers are looking into sustainable alternatives to plastic packaging and are seeing the carbohydrate polymer chitosan, extracted from chitin in shellfish, as a promising future. Currently, the majority of shrimp shells are discarded. Using those by-products to produce a bioplastic film gains popularity in the food packaging industry. According to researchers of Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, one species of plankton-sized crustaceans, the copepod, is estimated to produce billions of tons of chitin every year. They predict, that one plastic drinking cup could be made from just 200 grams of