Seeking eco-friendly beachwear? Try flip-flops made of algae

by Darnell Christie | @darnellchristie | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 7 August 2020 15:08 GMT

A pair of biodegradable flip flops sit on beach in Maldive island chain. September 15 2018. Photo courtesy of Stephen Mayfield

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Working in partnership with a tech start-up, researchers in California have produced a foam-like material made from algae oil

By Darnell Christie

LONDON, Aug 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Scientists in California have devised a new way for sunseekers to care for the environment when they hit the beach – biodegradable flip-flops made from algae.

Working in partnership with tech start-up company Algenesis Materials, researchers at the University of California San Diego have spent years trying to produce a solid foam-like material out of oil extracted from algae to make the green beach sandals.

They hope the sustainable footwear, which is due to be launched through a major flip-flop brand next year, will cut the amount of plastic ending up in oceans and landfill sites.

"There are over one billion flip-flops made in the world every year and are actually a major plastic pollution in the oceans," Stephen Mayfield, one of the project's leaders, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Friday.

Mayfield, director at the California Center for Algae Biotechnology and Associate Director, Michael Burkart co-led the project with graduate student, Natasha Gunawan and Marissa Tessman, a research scientist at Algenesis Materials.

Plastic pollution in the oceans is expected to triple by 2040, according to a study by the International Solid Waste Association, an NGO.

"People are ... starting to demand products that can address what has become an environmental disaster," said Tom Cooke, president of Algenesis Materials.

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(Reporting by Darnell Christie; Editing by Helen Popper; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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