Indonesia’s plastic pollutes our oceans more than any other country bar China. But, as a nation with more than 17,000 islands, their seaweed may be their secret weapon in their war against marine pollution - something we care deeply about at Koala Chess Art HQ.
As poorer communities hit with limited income and cash flow opt for cheap, single-use carrier bags, their rivers end up flooded with rubbish, which then flows into the ocean. But seaweed, being a natural ingredient, may be the cost-effective way of combating this problem.
So how does it work?
Well Indonesia’s production of the raw material is one of the highest in the world - again it is only second to China. It is, however, increasing at a rate of 30% a year. But, for red seaweed specifically, they come first in the rankings. And red seaweed is now reported to be ideal for creating bio-plastics - a much more sustainable alternative. Yay!
But why is it more sustainable?
Well typical land-based bio-plastics, such as corn and sugarcane, require substantial land development. And this development results in the mass deforestation we are now seeing across the world - endangering our plants as well as our wildlife. The working of the land also involves fertilizers and pesticides, which are not always as biodegradable as we are lead to believe. Seaweed, on the other hand, lives offshore, grows quickly, and doesn’t need chemicals to reach its peak.
Seems like an obvious answer doesn’t it?
Well, it may take five to ten years to see results as this is estimated to be the timescale for bringing production up to an industrial level. Right now, Indonesia's seaweed cultivation is in its infancy, and expertise is only starting to appear. But, on a more optimistic note - and we do like to be hopeful here - firms are really beginning to innovate and see its potential. Combine this with the country’s $1 billion pledge last year to cut its marine waste by 70% and we at Koala Chess Art HQ see a route to cleaner oceans!