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Perth biotech company turning seaweed into version of plastic

26/06/23 - Plastic made from seaweed and milk that doesn't come from a cow.


Those ideas may once have been seen as fanciful science fiction, but a boom in Australian biotechnology is making these discoveries, and more, the way of the future.


Seaweed could revolutionize how humans make all kinds of plastic product, according to Perth-based start-up ULUU.


Founded by Dr Julia Reisser, the company has found a way to turn natural farmed seaweed into pellets that can then be extruded into any plastic form.


"It mimics plastic very well so it can really replace plastic at scale with a material that's good for the world," Reisser told 9News.


The pellets can be used in all kinds of products, from cosmetics to fabrics and packaging.


Unlike plastic, the seaweed version is completely recyclable and biodegradable, meaning it will simply break down if it ends up in landfill or back in the sea.


Seaweed farms also offset more carbon than they emit and clean pollutants from the ocean.


"It's going to help us tackle plastic pollution, climate change and ocean health," Reisser said.


The venture capital firm Main Sequence, which was founded by CSIRO, is backing start-ups like ULUU and also Eden Brew.


Eden Brew has worked out how to make milk proteins in the same way a cow does in its stomach.


But unlike a dairy milk or plant-based milk, biotechnology uses fewer resources.


Eden Brew's process requires very little land, produces none of the methane gases cows do, and uses significantly less water.


Chief executive Jim Fader expects demand for dairy, beef, pork, lamb and chicken to rise by 50-100 per cent over the next 30 years.


"So we need to find modern and safe ways to make the foods we know and love," he said.

Fader said Eden Brew is not trying to replace traditional milk supply, but just augment it.


There is great potential for the technology to help reduce the cost of milk and provide stable supply, he said.


Eden Brew is working on scaling up production to a commercial level and expects to be selling its milk and ice cream in 18 months time.


Seaweed could revolutionize how humans make all kinds of plastic product, according to Perth-based start-up ULUU

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