Beverage bubbles mark step toward plastic-free packaging

A team of inventors are looking to revolutionise the drinks packaging market by eliminating paper and glass waste with the launch of a biodegradable, edible capsule that can house any liquid.

The team began developing Ooho! capsules two years ago in a bid to eliminate plastic packaging

Ooho! is the first product to be launched by the London-based Skipping Rocks Lab, co-founded by Pierre Paslier, a design engineer with previous experience working for L’Oreal, and Rodrigo García González, an inventor, designer, architect and engineer who also lectures in product design at Kingston University,

The pair embarked on the project two years ago with the aim of solving the planet’s plastic waste problem and reducing the impact of climate impact from packaging.

Made from seaweed extract, the gelatinous, biodegradable capsules can be coloured or flavoured and can hold any liquid, including water, soft drinks, spirits, and even cosmetics, and are being presented by the company as an alternative to plastic bottles.

The concept itself borrows inspiration from a cooking technique known as spherification, first developed by chef Ferran Adria during his time at the former elBulli restaurant in Spain.

Ooho! uses calcium chloride and brown algae extract to create a waterproof membrane around a liquid. The flexible packets of water are drunk by tearing a hole and pouring the liquid inside into your mouth. The packaging can then be consumed, thrown away or composted.

Skipping Rocks Lab, which is backed by the Climate-KIC accelerator based at Imperial College London, claims its packaging is “cheaper than plastic” at 3 pence per 250ml.

Furthermore, the capsules can be created on-site, with the team also planning to lease Ooho! machines to retailers, eliminating the cost of transportation.

Each Ooho! comes in different sizes, with 3 to 10 spheres able to be encapsulated in a peelable skin, “just like an orange”, and kept fresh for “a few days”.

For the past six months the team has been trialling the product via pop-ups in London, including Borough Market, and recently signed its first commercial license, with plans to run trials of the product with event organisers including Virgin Sports and Live Nation in 2018.

Currently, the team has raised £849,000 via crowdfunding site CrowdCube, smashing their initial £400,000 target.

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