Kelpwood Bioplastic project showing products made of biomaterial

Kelpwood & Bioplastic from Nordic Ocean Biomass

Project 2023 - 2024 Active

The Challange

Every year over 10 million tonnes of furniture and interior design elements end up in waste streams every year in the EU. A tiny percent of this is recycled or reused while the vast majority ends up in landfills or incineration.

The majority of the materials used in this massive industry are from unsustainable sources and are problematic for the environment at the end of life phase, and therefore for Scandinavian society’s waste streams.
Simultaneously the global demand for traditional plastic is unprecedented with production levels growing exponentially each year.

Unfortunately many of the critical stakeholders in this value chain are unwilling or unable to take the required responsibility to address this issue.

  • Manufacturers, producers and designers have very few viable and competitive solutions to traditional materials available to them, so they are forced to continue with business-as-usual to meet the demands of their businesses and their customers.
  • Customers have few biobased solutions to furnish and decorate their homes, offices and public spaces besides wood. Trees take 80-100 years to grow and forestry can affect biodiversity if it is not carried out according to sustainability regulations.
  • Many waste companies and governmental institutions do not have the facilities or processes in place to sort and process biobased material. Introducing this capability will require investments that can not be justify based on current volumes of production.

There is great potential for alternative biobased materials to have a significant impact on the entire design process and society as a whole, while generating value for aquaculture and ocean biomass as a source.
Although the wood and forestry industry is developing several alternatives, there is an increasing realisation that planetary well-being, requires regenerative materials that do not threaten biodiversity as much as forestry does.

The solution

This project will incorporate two ocean biomasses, Nordic Sugar Kelp (Saccharina Latissima) and Pacific Oysters (Magallana Gigas) to be converted into two different materials for a number of beautiful products and interior design applications. These biomaterials will have the potential to become viable alternatives to plastics and particleboards. They can be used in everything from non-load bearing interior walls, cabinet doors and shelves, to lampshades, kitchen organisers, cutlery drawers and more sustainable furniture.

We hope to achieve the vision of a Nordic home designed, built, and filled with objects made from biodegradable multi-purpose materials.  This initiative aims to demonstrate the potential of Ocean Biomass as a viable alternative to traditional materials, and to help position the Nordic Region at the forefront of the bioindustrial design revolution.

Bioplastic from Sugar Kelp and Oyster Shells

Kelp fibres and crushed Oyster shells will be compounded separately and potentially even together, with polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) to develop a beautiful, compostable bioplastic. PHA is a biodegradable and compostable polyester produced naturally by microorganisms, such as bacteria, in response to nutrient imbalances. The result is a versatile polymer that can be tailored to have different physical and chemical properties depending on the specific application. It can be processed into various forms, including films, fibres, filaments, and injection-moulded products. That makes it a suitable substitute for traditional petroleum-based plastics in a wide range of industries.

Kelpwood from Sugar Kelp and timber waste

Particle board, commonly known as chipboard or low-density fiberboard, is an engineered wood product pressed and extruded from wood chips and synthetic resin or other binders. Particle board is less expensive, denser, and more uniform than traditional wood and plywood. Kelp contains a high volume of natural glues that have evolved over millions of years in order to help these hardy plants stick to rocks and bind it to uneven organic surfaces.

By pressing kelp with waste streams such as sawdust from OBOS’ factories, applying heat and hydraulic pressure, the kelp acts as a glue. The result is a stiff and rigid particle board material. These sheets are 100% bio-based, compostable, and devoid of any chemicals. It will potentially be able to be utilised as a construction material, for furniture and interior design products, and to be used to create acoustic wall panel.

Potentional of biomass

This initiative aims to demonstrate the potential of Ocean Biomass as a viable alternative to traditional materials, and to help position the Nordic Region at the forefront of the bioindustrial design revolution.

The Nordic consortium

Interesting Time Gang

Interesting Times Gang from Sweden is project lead. They are a design studio in the fields of circularity and biomaterials. They are an interdisciplinary studio of designers, material developers and creative technologists, who specialise in the creation and craftsmanship of aesthetic, functional products and environments, produced from circular and regenerative materials.

OBOS - Norway/Sweden

OBOS is one of the largest housing developers in the Nordics, cooperatively
owned by 500 000 members in Norway and 14 000 in Sweden. OBOS owns
Myresjöhus and Smålandsvillan and their respective factories in Sweden.

Nordic SeaFarm - Sweden

Nordic SeaFarm is a company dedicated to cultivating high-quality seaweed in nutritious Swedish waters. Nordic SeaFarms products have recently been used as ingredients by master chefs to prepare the prestigious Nobel Prize dinner.

Material Factor - Finland

Material Factor are Interesting Times Gang’s preferred partner for biomaterial production and were central to the success of our pre-call project and the material used to produce the beautiful, fully functional, biodegradable prototypes.

Ocean Forest / Lerøy Seafood Group - Norway

Lerøy Seafood Group is a world-leading seafood corporation who have established Ocean Forest together with Bellona Foundation, in order to research and develop new forms of biomass production linked to aquaculture.

Bioextrax - Sweden

Bioextrax’ technology is a patent-pending method to convert sucrose into PHA. This can reduce the production costs significantly, while producing a higher quality product, in a far more environmentally friendly way.

Studio Kathryn Larsen - Denmark

Studio Kathryn Larsen is an architecture studio that specialises in design installations, residential buildings and commercial interiors, and has many years of experience in exploring the use of ocean biomass to build homes in more sustainable ways.

MS Donna - Norway

Since 2016, MS Donna has focused on a circular approach to supplying the Scandinavian restaurant industry with premium king crab, while working as sustainably as possible. Today they are turning their entrepreneurial focus to Pacific Oysters in order to convert this notoriously invasive species into a potentially valuable resource.

Contacts

Emil Gejrot - Innovation Adviser

Emil Gejrot (paternity leave)

Innovation Adviser
Emil has extensive experience of innovation projects and policy analysis in the Nordic region and beyond. Before joining Nordic Innovation, he worked for a research consultancy where he focused on digital transformation, inclusion, and sustainability. He holds an MA in Transcultural Studies and has lived and worked in Sweden, Norway, the UK, and Germany.

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