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Origin by Ocean’s algae solution turns harmful algae into useful materials

Origin by Ocean harnesses the potential of harmful invasive algae by removing them from the coasts and refining them into bio-based chemical ingredients that serve as the basis for a wide range of products in different sectors.

Writers

Tim Forslund

Specialist, Nature and the economy

Riku Sinervo

Senior Lead, Global collaboration, Sustainability solutions

Published

Problem

Invasive algae outbreaks can cause adverse impacts on local ecosystems and economies. For example, in the Caribbean region, several million tonnes of harmful sargassum blooms have been drifting ashore in recent years, displacing – and even suffocating – coastal biodiversity, endangering the livelihoods of fishers and the tourist industry. Invasive algae also decompose into methane, a strong greenhouse gas.

Solution

Origin by Ocean removes harmful algae, previously void of economic use, from the coasts and transforms them into ingredients that can be used in food and beverage production, cosmetics, textiles, agriculture and construction. Origin by Ocean produces a diverse range of bio-based, biodegradable products, replacing items with larger carbon footprints. The patented biorefinery process makes possible a 100% utilisation rate of algae feedstocks without using chemicals of concern, recirculating chemicals and water instead.

Circular solutions for nature find value in underused but abundant local resources. If they tackle a local problem in the process, then even better.

Riku Sinervo and Tim Forslund, Sitra

Biodiversity impacts

By removing invasive algae, Origin by Ocean’s operations help to both directly decrease negative biodiversity impacts in coastal regions from invasive alien species and prevent methane emissions. The residual seaweed biomass is suitable for animal feed and bio-stimulants for agriculture, which may help to reduce the need to use land to develop these products.

Benefits for the company

Origin by Ocean’s patented technology means a wide range of algae species can be used, making the solution suitable for many different geographical areas and ensuring a stable supply of locally abundant feedstocks from algae that may be harmful to local biodiversity if left in place. The product can also increase raw material efficiency and sourcing costs by replacing multiple ingredients with inputs from a single algae feedstock.

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