The capsules – known as Ooho – are developed by Skipping Rocks Lab, an innovative sustainable packaging startup founded by Imperial alumni Pierre Paslier and Rodrigo Garcia.
This year’s Virgin Money London Marathon will see the largest ever trial of Ooho following a successful trial at The Vitality Big Half. Lucozade Sport will be provided in more than 30,000 edible Ooho seaweed capsules to runners at the Lucozade Sport station at Mile 23.
The trial comes amid growing concern about the amount of plastic waste generated by discarded plastic bottles at mass participation races.
Drinks to go
Ooho is an edible, tasteless and biodegradable membrane made from seaweed that can be used to contain water and other liquids in a small ‘bubble’. The product is part of Skipping Rocks Lab’s ambition to pioneer the use of natural materials extracted from plants and seaweed to create packaging with low environmental impact and help tackle the problem of plastic waste.
While it is designed to be edible, the team say the Ooho material degrades in a natural environment in 6 weeks on average – in comparison to plastic bottles which take over 400 years to decompose.
The team are trialling Ooho as a replacement for small water bottles on the go, as well as for fresh juices, sauces and condiments used by fast-food restaurants, and for hydration in sporting events such as the London Marathon.
Lise Honsinger, the Chief Financial Officer of Skipping Rocks, told The Daily Telegraph: “We’re very excited, in our fundraising pitch two years ago we said we were targeting events such as the London Marathon.
“We’ve had great feedback, while they take a bit of getting used to, once people get them they find them almost easier to use than a cup.
“We’re now talking to the Royal Parks half marathon, which is huge in October, about doing a water station there, we’re talking to the New York marathon – hopefully we will be in a world in a year’s time when we just don’t use water bottles anymore.”
With Ooho, Skipping Rocks Lab want to allow customers to easily make positive choices and tackle the abundance of plastic bottles which are one of the most common items of litter found in the sea. They say that changing the way we package our drinks is key for the protection of the environment.
The team have developed an industrial machine to produce Oohos, that will be able to produce 100 Oohos in five to ten minutes.
Skipping Rocks Lab has received support from Imperial Enterprise Lab and were previously based at the Imperial White City Incubator. They now have a team of 14 in their labs based in Bethnal Green.