University of Sussex graduate designs award-winning plastic alternative made from fish waste

Developed in the kitchen of her student flat


With plastic waste becoming a real concern, and the amount of plastic waste generated annually in the UK is estimated to be nearly 5 million tonnes. Lucy Hughes, a University of Sussex graduate may have one solution, with her invention MarinaTex, a plastic alternative made from fish waste. MarinaTex is translucent and flexible and could be used to replace single waste packing on a range of products, the material is made from fish off-cuts and red algae.

Lucy Hughes has recently won a Jason Dyson award for her invention which she developed in her final year of Sussex studying Product design, she competed against entrants from 27 countries and will receive £30,000.

The invention was developed on the kitchen stove of her student flat, and included more than 100 prototype tests, the product biodegrades after 4 to 6 weeks. The product is ideal as a plastic free alternative to bakery bags and sandwich packs.

Hughes stated her inspiration "began by looking into the fishing industry, 50 million tonnes of waste is produced annually by the global industry, I believe that there is value in waste and that resources can be renewable". Rather than plastic ending up in the sea, Hughes reverses this, by using fish waste to create a plastic alternative.

The Jason Dyson award is an international design award that celebrates, encourages and inspired the next generation of design engineers.

The brief for this years competition was to 'design something that solves a problem'. Sir James Dyson judged the final round and stated “MarinaTex elegantly solves two problems: the ubiquity of single-use plastic and fish waste."

“Further research and development will ensure that MarinaTex evolves further, and I hope it becomes part of a global answer to the abundance of single-use plastic waste.”