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Delta

Delta is a seaweed based alternative to the billions of sachets and blister packs used in numerous industries.

Photo of Pierre Paslier

Written by

Utilizing a proprietary alginate blend made from brown seaweed we have created a clear, transparent membrane in which water and other liquids can be held. This packaging can be eaten along with its contents, or alternatively if discarded will biodegrade in the natural environment in four to six weeks. The Delta membrane can be flavoured, coloured and can be used to contain a wide range of liquids, creams and pastes.

Idea Title

Delta

Company / Organization Name

Skipping Rocks Lab Ltd

Website

skippingrockslab.com

Where are you / your team located?

London, UK

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

This product completely redesigns small format packaging as the 100% biodegradable membrane breaks down entirely within a few months, leaving now waster and negating the need for recycling at all. Due to the packaging originating from seaweed (which is in abundance), it is a near carbon neutral solution to the energy consuming and polluting production of polymers. Any carbon dioxide released in the biodegrading of the Delta is reabsorbed by the seaweed from which it originates.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Applies to use cases 1, as we are looking at eliminating waste from the street one sachet at a time. As it is 100% biodegradable our product solves the concerns of each individual, as shown in the images above.

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

Our product is a global product that can solve the issue of plastic sachet waste everywhere. We particularly see its' applicability in Asia and Africa where sachets are widely used for all sorts of liquids.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

The aim is to develop a small, automatic machine which can be used to manufacture the Delta by businesses around the world. In an ideal world we would work with big end users initially, as they the would have the resources to help bring the machine to market and maximise impact. After the business machine we would like to develop a domestic machine for the every-day user. One obstacle is the durability of the sachet, however testing is resolving the problem.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Piloting: You have started to implement your solution as a whole with a first set of real users. You may have started to develop a business model for your idea, including identifying key customer segments, relevant partnerships, go-to-market strategy, and draft financials.
  • Full-scale roll-out: You have developed a pilot, tested, and analyzed the impact of that pilot as it pertains to the problem scope. You are ready to expand the pilot significantly and begin to scale.
  • Operating Concept / Startup: You have fulfilled the stages of testing, undertaken a full scale roll-out, and are currently operating this concept/idea as a business.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

The opportunity to work with the accelerator program offers more resources to develop our machine. Having developed an early manual prototype, we have begun developing a non-automatic rig that can produce quality Deltas . By January 2018 we aim to have a working automatic version of the machine. The new plastics economy program will allow us to speed up the development of the commercial model, bring forward plans for a 2nd iteration with more features and help us approach relevant businesses.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

The way nature encapsulates liquids is truly inspiring. From the egg yolk to our own cells, nature uses membranes to protect precious content from the outside. Conscious of the problem of plastic water bottles, our initial project, the Ooho, began by exploring the properties of natural membranes. Further down the line focusing on seaweed. The Delta is expanding on the range of techniques and products that can be used and created with this membrane.

Tell us about your work experience

I'm a mechanical engineer and worked in packaging design at L'Oreal before doing Innovation Design Engineering MSc at Imperial where I met co-founder Rodrigo, who is an Architect and Product Designer.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Skipping Rocks Lab Ltd is a private limited company.

Please describe, in detail, your business model and how you intend to test and iterate this model.

The business model behind Delta is actually focussed around the machine that will produces the Delta sachets. We intend to be a B2B business selling machines for location based encapsulation of liquids in Delta sachets on site. We are focusing on three customer use cases for Delta that fit the focus of this competition: toiletries in single use sachets; condiment sauces in sachets for fast food restaurants; sports gels for outdoor sports events.

Please explain how your innovation will work within, potentially improve, and provide benefit to the plastics system.

Skipping Rocks Lab has focused its efforts on creating a cheap sachet made from an abundant natural resource that disappears as quickly as natural food waste. Our material can in fact be treated just like food, which is sorted from general waste into biodegradable disposal, but even if it ends up in landfill will degrade to its’ original elements. The circularity here is in its rawest form, with the material breaking down into basic biological molecules that are used by seaweed to grow.

Please describe, in depth, how your solution will reduce the overall environmental footprint of packaging.

Seaweed is easy to farm, extract and is available on virtually every coastline. Unlike PLA and other starch based bioplastics, kelp doesn’t compete with farmland and doesn’t require any fresh water or fertiliser to grow. Seaweed is also an excellent CO2 sink, and as a result a powerful agent to reduce ocean acidity allowing seashells to regenerate. In its end of life, Delta naturally biodegrades, breaking down aerobically into water and CO2 in any soil environment.

Please outline how your design, material, and delivery choices will influence price, and how you intend to address the price increase that may result from this solution.

Our Delta material is itself cheap, it is the production machine that is expensive. However we expect capex of this machine will reduce as production volumes of machines increase. With our commercial model price per unit is a function of the lease plus material cost spread across volume produced, therefore to achieve the lowest possible unit price we want to maximise volume throughput.

Please explain how your solution will impact user behavior, and what design considerations you've included to ensure easy and intuitive interactions with your Idea. 

Delta is an evolution of our previous product Ooho which was a spherical product. Through consumer testing for Ooho over the last year, we have found that some people found it unintuitive to use as a sachet as they didn’t know where to tear it, where they had made a puncture or how to put it down. The shape of Delta is therefore a development of the Ooho product specifically for a sachet application and in response to consumer feedback.

Please describe how you intend to use the prize funding, if selected as a Top Idea. Be specific.

Currently, our financing is a lean budget that only supports development of our first product, Ooho, for our initial target market of packaged water. So additional funding would allow us to develop Delta and its markets.

13 comments

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Pierre!

Welcome to refinement!

How does your solution compete with the barrier properties of multi-layer sachets?

Would you elaborate more on the supply and delivery model for your solution? How will you get products to people before the packaging degrades/product goes stale?

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me by tagging me here (@ followed by my name) or send me an email - krushton@ideo.com

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo of Pierre Paslier
Team

Hi Kate,

Thank you for your question. Our solution doesn’t have the same performance in terms of oxygen vapor barrier properties if you compare with a multi-layer sachet with an Internal PE layer, adhesive resin, aluminum film, a polyethylene lamination layer, carton, printing and an external PE layer. It is comparable to a fruit membrane as a grape or tomato. That means that the content won’t last as much in the Delta packaging as in a multi-layer sachet, however, the biodegradable time of Delta is much shorter than a multi-layer sachet. The challenge then is how to deliver package products in a shorter time on existing long supply chains.
Delta supply and delivery model are based on local manufacturing. We are currently developing a small Nespresso-type machine that will allow retailers to package in a Delta what ever product they want from a bulk container. So the idea is that retailers would have bulk material (easier to transport in big reusable containers) and would be able to package in individual portions whatever content at the point of sale for same-day consumption.

Photo of Radha
Team

Hi Pierre,

During transportation/delivery can Delta burst or leak due to being transported in big reusable containers?

Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Pierre Paslier 

As Refinement Phase quickly comes to a close in LESS THAN 8 HOURS, I want to remind you that the following must be submitted by tonight, August 31st at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

1. Submit the Refinement Questions Form online that was sent again via email yesterday evening--we have not yet received this from you. These questions are mandatory for Top Ideas consideration, so this should be your first priority in the final stretch.

2. A secondary priority, which is optional, is to update your Refinement Phase post. I see you've already updated your concept on the platform. But please share any additional information, photos, and documentation of your progress throughout this Phase!

Looking forward to reviewing and celebrating the amazing work you've achieved this Refinement Phase!

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Pierre!

Interesting idea!

What is the end-to-end process for producing the sachets i.e. from seaweed to sachet in a store?

Given that the sachet degrades in 6 weeks, what assumptions have you made from a logistics standpoint in terms of getting the product to the customer?

Where does this idea fit into the current system? Are there economic, societal, or infrastructural shifts need to occur for your idea to be implemented at scale?

There is another idea you might want to look at in the challenge - Poppits® Toothpaste Pods 

How would you account for/incorporate product branding?

Photo of Pierre Paslier
Team

Thanks a lot for the questions Kate

1- The end to end process of producing the sachets: Seaweed is farmed in the coastline; harvested; cleaned; chopped; several components are extracted (we are working to close as many “circles” as possible); from which we produce a specific formulation. All additives are 100% natural. We supply this concentrated material to a Delta producer/seller who operates one of our machines; he loads this material into the Delta machine. He also loads the product to be packaged which is delivered to him in bulk in a returnable container. He then produces Delta daily almost on demand, which reduces waste and leftovers. one of his clients buys a product in a Delta, consume the content, either choosing to eat the membrane if the product is a food or beverage, or discarding it in a bin, in soil or in a home compost. The membrane is naturally compostable, this means that it can be treated and handled in the same way we treat the skin of a fruit.

2- The assumptions regarding logistics is based on local manufacturing. The process of making delta is much simpler than making any kind of plastic packaging. It’s compact and low energy as no heat is needed. We believe that by providing a machine that could manufacture on the spot where you use or buy the products makes sense as the time for the consumer to get the product is reduced to the maximum.

3- Our solution introduces several changes to the system if you compare with the actual one. The supply chain gets reduced and the retailer becomes the one packaging the product, which means he can capture the added value of packaging at the local scale.

4- The Poppits® Toothpaste Pods look awesome! Looking forward to knowing how it feels like in the mouth. We can certainly help as our Delta membrane is insoluble in water. That means that it wouldn’t dissolve in mouth or with water, but has the benefit that it can hold water-based liquids (there are a lot of them).
5- There are different options for branding/labeling: We are working with different natural inks that can dye the membrane; in the case of adding a second layer of the same seaweed base membrane to the product It could also incorporate any kind of printed material between the layers without using any glue. And of course, we can brand easily the machine in the environment where Delta would be produced and distributed.

Photo of Igor Biffi
Team

Hi Pierre and Team!
First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the incredible idea and research!
How much time a sachet resists before I consume them?

Good luck with your project!

Photo of Pierre Paslier
Team

Hi,
Thanks for your words, good question! the shelf life really depends on the content and the storage conditions. In one extreme, if we are packing something that doesn’t need to be eaten (ex. Soap gel) or something that doesn't have too much water content (ex. oil) it can last for weeks even months. On the other extreme, If the content is something that doesn’t have preservatives and high water content, like something as fresh juices and is exposed to high temperature the package+content wouldn’t be nice to consume after 1-2 days.
With our Nespresso style machine, we suggest that delta pods are produced daily so that you always get a fresh product in a fresh packaging! One of the plus to having a short shelf life is that the shortest shelf life we have=the shortest biodegradable time we can achieve.

Photo of Karman Studios
Team

Hi Pierre,
Greetings from Karman Studios.
Kate Rushton suggested us to have a look at your work, as one of our shortlisted ideas is very similar to that of yours.
Must say we really like the idea and the progress you have made in this direction.
We are basically a design consultancy in India and exploring various sustainability directions to reduce the plastic waste nuisance in our country.
The tomato ketchup sachet alternative solutions we came up with, was basically to do away with the conventional plastic sachets and look for a whole new sustainable ketchup experience. Though we mentioned only ketchup in the idea phase, we do want to explore similar idea for other consumables and esp. typically Indian food taste enhancers similar to tomato ketchup.
As you have already made a good amount of research, developed expertise and made workable solutions in this direction, can we have a collaborative stand for this idea?
If we proceed in a collaborative way, we can introduce you to the big Indian market (as our country has a great consumer population) and develop not only tomato ketchup but other product solutions. We can offer a great social angle to the business model too by maybe proposing idea of unprivileged women in our Indian society to be employed in the manufacturing of this range of products and get government grants for the same as well, as presently much government drive is happening to make India cleaner and free of plastic waste.
Be it our bubble idea or the consumable stick idea we can introduce you to various Indian flavor for food enhancers and maybe create solutions for them and test it in Indian market too. If success is there, it is a huge potential market to cater and it can be a very lucrative business proposition too.
Do please let us know your views for this and if positive we can discuss more about how to go about it and how collaboratively we can contribute to make this venture workable.
Thanks,
KarmanStudios

Photo of Pierre Paslier
Team

Hi Karman Studios,

Congrats also for your idea on the tomato ketchup sachet alternative. We have been messing around with ketchup and other sauces as well to make edible containers. Really up for exploring how we can collaborate, the Indian market sounds really dynamic for us, however, we feel that at the moment it is a bit early for us to scale up internationally. The idea behind Delta is to provide machines to produce them close to the place of consumption so the idea that you mention of unprivileged women's employed in manufacturing these products resonates with us and we definitely can see it happening in a near future.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Pierre!

There are 7 days left in the refinement phase.

If there is key information in the comments on your idea submission, I recommend that you move them to the main body of your idea submission before the cut-off time.

I just want to remind you that the deadline to complete the Refinement Questions via the online submission form is August 31 at 11:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Photo of Soren
Team

Looks cool: But is there enough seaweed available to scale your venture?

Photo of Pierre Paslier
Team

Glad you asked Hans & Soren. Seaweed has an enormous potential. First of all, some macro-algae species can grow up to 3 meters per day, making it a incredibly renewable resource. Second, these resources don't compete with in land food crops like PLA and other starch based materials. If we were to replace every PET plastic bottle in the world by a Delta sachet, we'd only use 0.03% of the available seaweed. Macro-algae really have the potential to scale.