A home-compostable biopolymer
Shellgae is a healthier alternative to plastic and paper takeout food containers. It does not use land resources or traditional feedstocks.
The material differs in both appearance and performance from the existing compostable packaging and stems from the need to solve the confusion of responsible disposal.
Material Exploration / Packaging / Thesis Project: Parsons Product Design
As part of my material exploration, I worked with algae and wasted organics to create a visual library for my concept. Out of these, 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 liquid 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 materials was created 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.
The designs were inspired by crustaceans and how existing clamshell containers are designed. This helped me in my ideation phase to develop forms inspired by crab shells, clamshells, and turtle shells.
Understanding what kind of food can be packaged within the material was also an essential part of my design process. The containers are designed for ease of stackablity and work as a provocative visual element within a restaurant.
This image hopes to give consumers a delightful experience while eating out of the Shellgae container.
On comparing Shellgae in a home-composting environment to PLA, paper, and organics the material is seen disintegrating into the soil after 28 days.