A supply-chain perspective on producing and upscaling bioplastic from cultivated brown seaweed

Maddalen Ayala, Øystein Arlov*, Katharina Nøkling-Eide, Maren Sœther, Camilla Dore, Julio Vidal, Qi Zhou, Shennan Wang, Leszek Michalak, Adriana Kyvik, Bettany Jolain, Lilas Aubel, Synnøve Strand Jacobsen, Massimo Pizzol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Plastic pollution is an environmental emergency and finding sustainable alternatives to traditional plastics has become a pressing need. Seaweed-based bioplastic has emerged as a promising solution, as it is biodegradable and made from renewable biomass, while seaweed cultivation itself provides various environmental benefits. However, the feasibility of implementing a brown seaweed-based bioplastic supply chain in a realistic setting remains unclear, as previous research focused either on single processing steps or on virtual supply chains aggregating data from different studies. This study describes a case study for seaweed-based bioplastic within the PlastiSea research project: from seaweed cultivation to biomass processing and bioplastic and composite material development at the lab and pilot scale, thus providing insights into its feasibility. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach, the study employs multiple methods to characterize each stage in the supply chain and provides an overall life cycle assessment (LCA) as well as lessons learned throughout the process. The analysis showed potential for producing and utilizing multiple co-products from the same seaweed source, including biopolymer extracts with varying degrees of refinement for use in low-cost (bioplastic films) and high-cost (microfiber composites) applications. The use of residual biomass as a source of alginates for producing bioplastics offers a low-cost and sustainable biomass supply currently not competing with other markets. The LCA results indicate the potential for reducing the environmental impact of seaweed-based bioplastic production through upscaling and increasing process efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141248
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

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  • Alaria esculenta
  • Alginate
  • Bioplastic film
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Microfiber composites
  • Saccharina latissima


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