The Algae-Copack project aims to convert the Asian brown alga, an invasive species that appeared on the shores of the Strait of Gibraltar a few years ago and is proliferating without control, into the raw material to manufacture sustainable and biodegradable trays to package the fruits and vegetables that Nuestra Señora de Las Virtudes, a cooperative from Cadiz that is participating in the initiative, markets.
The new packaging would replace the expanded polystyrene trays that the cooperative currently uses to package stew ingredients, vine tomatoes, and leeks, among other horticultural varieties. "The project seeks to turn a problem into a solution,” stated Bartolome Ramirez, the president of the cooperative.
The creation of the operating group promoting this project was celebrated at the facilities of the cooperative Nuestra Señora de Las Virtudes, in Conil. The University of Cadiz, Futur Alga SCA, COAG Andalucia, Las Virtudes cooperative, and the Global TEC-Automatizaciones e Ingeniería SL firm also participate in this alliance.
Sofía Tristancho, from Futur-Alga, highlighted that this project would give an added value to the algae that reached the coast of the province, which currently has no economic value. She also presented one of the prototypes that they have already created, which still needs some improvements. The prototype was of a small brown box, like the algae, and it is hard enough to replace the trays that are currently being used for the packaging and distribution of fruits and vegetables. Her partner in this business initiative, Victor Manuel Perez, said this project was endorsed by the UCA, which will make available their laboratories and personnel for the development of this study.
Luis Lopez Molina, the general director of the Center for the Promotion of Employment and Practices of the University of Cadiz, said that the packages could be ready for commercialization in about two years.