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A home-compostable biopolymer
Shellgae is a healthier alternative to plastic and paper takeout food containers.
The material differs in both appearance and performance from existing compostable packaging and stems from the need to solve the confusion of responsible disposal.
Material Exploration / BFA Thesis
As part of the material exploration, I worked with algae and wasted organics to create a visual library.
The ones that worked best were the algae blends with eggshells and wasted lettuce and carrots. These blends not only have interesting opacities and textures but also ensure that the material remains odorless after it is completely dry.
The material was tested using various processes. The first process involved creating molds are pouring the mixture into it. After waiting for about 24 hours the side walls were removed to ensure equal drying. This was a fairly labor-intensive process. The best results were found when a sheet of the material was shaped into 3D forms using the vacuum former.
TESTING WITH FOOD
The material can hold up warm bowls without deforming and appears to be suitable for dry and semi-dry foods.
Designs were inspired by crustaceans and how existing clamshell containers work. This guided my ideation phase and helped me develop forms inspired by crab shells, clamshells, and turtle shells.
Understanding what kind of food can be packaged within the material was an essential part of my design process. The containers were designed to stack easily and work as a provocative visual element within a restaurant.
Visually, the product aimed at providing users with a delightful experience.
When comparing Shellgae in a home-composting environment to PLA, paper, and organics the material was seen disintegrating into the soil after 28 days.
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