Lucy Hughes
Index Award 2021 Finalists
MarinaTex
Fish waste film without a footprint

What’s the design in a nutshell?
MarinaTex is the creator of a home-compostable flexible film made from fish waste. The material is developed as a planet-conscious alternative to translucent plastic film in the packaging industry. The material biodegrades in four to six weeks, doesn’t leach harmful chemicals, and has a higher tensile strength than low-density polyethene (LDPE) materials of the same thickness.

Why is it needed? 
Plastic has thrived and survived to become the ultimate convenience product, which has led to many plastics becoming a go-to for quick fixes. This means that one of our most environmentally harmful and non-degradable products is only used in a fraction of its overall lifespan. That’s a quick thrill for a material that takes hundreds of years to biodegrade. This is the problem MarinaTex is trying to solve by designing solutions using circular economy principles to ensure sustainability throughout products’ life cycles.

How does it work?
This new bio-based material uses ingredients sourced from the sea, including fish waste, that would be destined for extensive post-processing or landfill. While researching the solution, future Founder Lucy Hughes was overcome with the strength, flexibility and robustness of skins and scales from fish wasted. In parallel, she also drew inspiration from the growing bioplastic movement/community.

This paved the way for a unique blend of organic ingredients that provide plastic-like qualities. MarinaTex's two main components for its film are fish waste and algae, with the former providing a flexible scaffold adding strength and durability and the latter acting as a glue that binds the film together.

"MarinaTex's two main components for its film are fish waste and algae."

How does it improve life?
The global plastic packaging market, which MarinaTex is targeting, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.2% from 2021 to 2028. Extrusion-based products, such as film, are still widely used in most consumer and industrial applications in big markets like the US, due to its durability. Especially for packaging food, which the demand for will grow as we’re expected to be 9.7 billion people in the world by 2050. Therefore, a circular, fish waste film alternative, that even outperforms its predecessor, could be an impactful step on the way to change the industry for the better.

It ties in with MarinaTex’s clear mission to develop solutions that benefit both people and the planet through circular solutions. The key idea is to highlight the importance of designing for form, function and footprint equally.

What’s the impact to date or projected impact?
Currently, MarinaTex is in discussions with collaborators and institutions to further develop the material and optimise it for particular applications, helping accelerate MarinaTex’s time to market. The company has been featured in Forbes, The Guardian and BBC Worldwide to name a few, and video content featuring MarinaTex went viral with one World Economic Forum video reaching 9.2 million views on TikTok.