Will Sargassum Become the New Plastic?

 Seagriculture EU 2024

From the Archives

sargassum horneri

Plastic materials using sargassum horneri would have high economic efficiency in South Korea. Photo: Wikimedia/Totti

S​outh Korea has launched a state project to develop biodegradable marine bioplastic materials using seaweed such as sargassum horneri, a species of brown macroalgae called “devil weed” from China that damages sea farms almost every year.

Lim Chang-won reports in the AJU Business Daily that the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said it would develop eco-friendly plastic materials based on brown algae by 2026, in cooperation with Jung Gyoo-yeol, a professor of chemical engineering at Pohang University of Science and Technology.

The Ministry anticipates “a great industrial ripple effect,” saying that plastic materials using sargassum horneri as well as seaweed and kelp by-products would have high economic efficiency and an environmental protection effect. “It is an international trend to seek solutions to environmental pollution using marine biomass,” Jung Jae-kwan, a Ministry official in charge of marine and fishery life resources, said in a statement on June 7.

Based on strains that do not require a separate pretreatment process, the ministry said its project is aimed at developing technologies for producing itaconic acid, 3-Hydroxypropionic acid, and lactic acid, which are bioplastic materials with high industrial utilization.

Iaconic acid is primarily used as a co-monomer in the production of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and acrylate latexes with applications in the paper and architectural coating industry. 3-Hydroxypropionic acid is used in the industrial production of various chemicals such as acrylates. Lactic acid is used as a synthetic intermediate in many organic synthesis industries and in various biochemical industries.

The ministry said that researchers would develop monomer blending technology to have the properties of plastics required for each use. This will compensate for the shortcomings of eco-friendly plastics that have degraded properties compared to petroleum-based plastic products.

All rights reserved. Permission required to reprint articles in their entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact david@algaeplanet.com. Algae Planet accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

Seagriculture USA 2024



  • April 19, 2024: Hospitalized COVID-19 patients who took spirulina had a lower risk of death than those who did not, according to results of a randomized controlled trial recently published in Frontiers in Immunology. READ MORE...
  • April 17, 2024: A research team exploring the untapped potential of seaweed farming for carbon sequestration is positioning Taiwan to play a role in offsetting global carbon emissions. READ MORE...
  • April 15, 2024: Somater, a French manufacturer of plastic and polymer primary packaging for cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food, and industry, has partnered with French start-up Eranova to create a 100% bio-based line of packaging from green algae collected on the banks of a brackish water lagoon near Marseille, in the south of France. READ MORE...
  • April 12, 2024: Global warming is triggering significant shifts in temperate macroalgal communities worldwide, favoring small, warm-affinity species over large canopy-forming, cold-affinity species. A new study delves into the impacts of increasing sea surface temperature on the subtidal macroalgal communities in the southeastern Bay of Biscay over the last four decades. READ MORE...

Algae Europe 2024

A Beginner’s Guide