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Food condiment Sachets made of Bio-Plastics.

Redesigning the composition and constituent materials of condiment sachets to make them quickly biodegradable at landfill sites.

Photo of Andrew Bisagaya
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Our solution uses water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) which is an invasive alien plant species to produce biodegradable plastic packaging material for the food condiments used in fast food outlets.

The condiments sachets are then made of paper with a bioplastic coasting to make them biodegradable. 

This is envisioned as part of a whole plastic eco system and the 'Grow away' bag. 

Idea Title



Where are you / your team located?

Cape Town, South Africa.

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

Currently, the small format packaging that we are targeting are in several cases made from foil and plastic coating for durability, better storing and to improve the lifespan of food products such as sauces. As a solution to their non-recycled nature, we propose a different biodegradable material to make the sachets. Biodegradable plastics are developed from water hyacinth. The sachets are then made of paper covered in bioplastics allowing them to meet the same functions.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

User Case 1. Single use sachets for consumer products. Point of View Statement. Xavier, a young scholar who cares about the environment needs a hygienic way to get his food condiments in a world where single use small format plastic packaging is not recycled.

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

Our team is based in Cape Town. At present water hyacinth is a major threat to local biodiversity and freshwater ecosystems. Non-recycled plastic waste is also a challenge in Cape Town. Both end up in landfills.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

The proposed sachets are part of an envisioned plastics economy that gives back to the ecosystem. Our idea is contextually relevant because the raw material is an invasive alien plant in Cape town. This makes it readily available and research shows, water hyacinth doubles in volume 2-3 weeks. We plan to collect it from the water ways and use it. At present, the City collects it intermittently and disposes of it in landfills. Further elaborated on in attached documentation.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.
  • Prototyping: You have conducted some small tests or experiments with prospective users and will continue developing idea through these tests.

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

We envision our solution as part of a whole ecosystem and it goes beyond the sachets. As a further step in our solution, we propose a ‘Grow-Away’ bag. The concept of a ‘Grow-Away’ bag is inspired by Nature's ecosystems. As part of the program, we would be able to manufacture prototypes for both the sachets and the 'Grow-away' bag for further testing, feasibility and viability analysis. Further elaborated on in the documentation.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

A multidisciplinary team of postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town who had done a foundation course in design thinking worked together to generate ideas for a submission using the design thinking methodology. Our idea emerged through conducting interviews with users and generating a Point of View (POV) statement based on the user cases provided by IDEO. We then ideated on this POV to generate possible solutions as presented in this document.

Tell us about your work experience

We are a group of postgraduate students from the University of Cape Town who had previously done a foundation course is design thinking at the Hasso Plattner Institute.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

We function under a team charter for this project, however, we are working on company registration.


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Photo of Imraan Samuels

Great stuff!

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