During the London Marathon on Sunday, participants were handed edible pods made of seaweed extracts instead of a plastic water bottle. It was a way that organizers were hoping to reduce the number of plastic bottles used by 200,000. The Ooho seaweed capsules are made by a London-based startup called Skipping Rocks Lab. They can be cheaper to produce than plastic and the thin membrane that forms the pod is edible and tasteless. “What we use is the building blocks of seaweed,” said Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez, one of the startup’s founders. “We remove all the green stuff and the smelly stuff,” he added.
The pods biodegrade within six weeks if they’re not eaten — a far cry from the 450 or more years it takes a plastic bottle to decompose. Sunday’s race marks the first time they’ll be used at a marathon. “The marathon is a milestone … we are hoping we will demonstrate that it can be used at scale in the future,” said Garcia Gonzalez. The pods are meant for people on the move, such as runners and music festival attendees. They can be filled with a variety of liquids.
“Espresso Martinis have been the most popular product at festivals, where eating the packaging is also part of the experience,” said Pierre-Yves Paslier, Garcia Gonzalez’s business partner. The duo met while studying innovative design engineering in London. They say the mission of their company is to “make plastic packaging disappear.” In addition to liquid pods, they are also working on green alternatives to cling film and the plastic liners used in throwaway coffee cups.