An Edinburgh-based inventor has created a bottle that disintegrates in salt water in just three weeks.
The fully biodegradable bottle is made from paper and a secret combination of plant-based materials and it could help save the planet’s oceans from plastic pollution.
The 27-year-old founder claims that the bottle – which uses no fossil fuels in production – can also be eaten by sea creatures and neutralise acidic soils in landfill.
Worldwide the production of plastic has now increased to the point where output is expected to exceed 500 million metric tons by 2050.
Edinburgh-based Durham University chemistry graduate James Longcroft launched a non-for-profit bottled water company two years ago.
He wanted to put all his profits into a charity that provided clean drinking water to countries in Africa.
However, after concerns about the environmental impact of plastic bottles Mr Longcroft decided the Edinburgh and London-based company, Choose Water, should go plastic-free.
After months of experimenting at his kitchen table he came up with a new type of water bottle which is essentially a paper bottle with a waterproof liner.
The secret materials in the liner bind to the paper casing, creating a seal within the bottle.
When the bottle is left in landfill or thrown in the ocean the paper decomposes from the outside in.
‘The outside is made from recycled paper, but the inside had to be waterproof, provide strength so the bottle would retain its structure, and keep the water fresh – just like plastic’, Mr Longcroft told the Scotsman.
‘We’ve managed to do all that, which is pretty exciting. It’s made with a combination of natural, sustainable materials.
‘I’ve just mixed some stuff together from trees and plants – they’re all natural’, the father-of-two said.
Whether the bottle is thrown in the ocean or goes into landfill the degrading process begins ‘within hours’ leaving the bottle totally decomposed within weeks.
The steel cap breaks down within a year.
Mr Longcroft now believes these novel bottles could revolutionise the industry and says the cost of producing the bottle is around 5p more than one made from single-use plastic.
The entrepreneur is currently trying to raise £25,000 ($34,000) from crowd-funding to roll out production from premises in Fife and start producing bottles on a commercial scale.
‘The main hurdle we face is breaking into a saturated market and competing with an old and established industry’, he said.
The prototypes are currently hand-made and the water is sourced from England.
‘Changing an industry will be a massive uphill battle but with the public’s support we will change the way we look at bottled water’, he said.
Bottles are a major contributor to the increasing amount of plastic waste in the world’s oceans.
Researchers warned eight million tonnes of plastics currently find their way into the ocean every year – the equivalent of one truckload every minute.
As most plastics are produced for single-use applications, these materials will persist in the environment for centuries.
‘We really want to get our bottles on shelves and into people’s hands as soon as possible – if we can stop even one plastic bottle ending up in the environment it will be worth it’, said Mr Longcroft.
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