Seaweed packaging startup wins $1.2 million Earthshot Prize

Notpla – a firm that hopes to replace plastic packaging with edible seaweed-derived alternatives – is among the five winners of the 2022 Earthshot Prize.

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
5 December 2022, at 1:19pm
The Notpla team
The team at Notpla

Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez (far left) and Pierre Paslier (far right) founded Notpla in 2014

In a star-studded ceremony on 2 December in Boston, Prince William awarded UK startup Notpla with the prestigious Earthshot Prize for the “building a waste-free world” category. According to a news release from Earthshot, the five winners for the 2022 prize form an accomplished group of entrepreneurs and innovators spearheading ground-breaking solutions to repair and regenerate the planet. The four other winners include Mukuru Clean Stoves for the “clean our air” category, Kheyti for the “protect and restore nature” category, Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef for the “revive our oceans” category and 44.01 for the “fix our climate” category. Each winner will receive £1 million, or about $1.2 million, to develop their climate innovations.

Notpla was founded in 2014 by university students Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez and Pierre Paslier. The firm’s website states that they want to combat plastic waste by providing naturally biodegradable and home-compostable packaging. Their first product was “Ooho”, an edible bubble derived from seaweed that could hold liquids. In 2019, the startup partnered with Lucozade during the London marathon, replacing single-use plastic cups and bottles for athletes with 36,000 Ooho capsules.

“Fourteen million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans each year. We founded Notpla when we discovered the solution lies in our oceans too. We are already replacing plastic that plagues our seas and working with seaweed farms that give back to the environment and the local economy. Thank you for recognising us as we take our next big step and eliminate single-use plastic for good,” Notpla co-founder and CEO Pierre Paslier told the Earthshot Prize Council.

In addition to cutting down on plastic waste and sporting events, Notpla has gone on to use seaweed to create a water-resistant coating for take-out boxes, film and paper – along with a rigid plastic alternative. According to the BBC, the startup made more than one million takeout boxes for the delivery platform JustEat this year.

Paslier told the BBC, "When Rodrigo and I started Notpla eight years ago in our student kitchen, we would have never imagined we would be here today."

"No one wants to live in a world full of plastic waste, but it's not too late to act. There's never been a greater time to use natural solutions to solve the plastic challenge."

The 2022 Earthshot Prize winners
The 2022 Earthshot Prize winners

The Earthshot Prize recognised the efforts of five startups that are working towards ground-breaking solutions that will repair and regenerate the planet

Now in its second year, The Earthshot Prize embarked upon an ambitious global nine-month search process, seeking out the most inspiring and innovative solutions to the greatest environmental challenges facing the planet. Over 1,000 applications from around the world were considered, with 15 finalists from 10 countries chosen through a selection process supported by an expert advisory panel.

Each of the winners’ solutions excelled in the rigorous screening process following an assessment on their potential to create game-changing impact around the world, and their ability to help us reach Earthshot’s goals while also positively impacting people, communities and the natural world.

The final five winners were selected by The Earthshot Prize Council, a diverse team of influential individuals which include: HRH Prince William, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, Sir David Attenborough, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Indra Nooyi, Shakira Mebarak, Christiana Figueres, Luisa Neubauer, Cate Blanchett, Yao Ming, Daniel Alves Da Silva, Ernest Gibson, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Jack Ma and Naoko Yamazaki.