Plants

Saccharina latissima,
Saccharina latissima, also known by the common name sugar kelp, Saccharina latissima is an ecologically important system. It is a primary producer, delivering plant material to the coastal food web. Can it also replace plastic?

Can seaweed replace plastic?

More and more alternatives to plastics are being proposed these days, as the world wakes up to the immense “longevity” of single-use plastics.

One of these alternatives—seaweed—is the focus of Notpla, a London-based startup that has developed packaging that is designed to be composted, dissolved or consumed after use.

The decision to use seaweed was made after considering that it was abundant, grew fast, sequestered carbon from the air and did not require pesticides.

Giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) is a species of kelp (large brown algae)

Kelp forests help the climate

Kelp is an ecologically and economically important foundation species in California, where forests line nutrient-rich, rocky bottom coasts. It also might alleviate acidification caused by too much atmospheric carbon being absorbed by the seas.

A new interdisciplinary analysis of giant kelp in Monterey Bay off the coast of California shows that near the ocean’s surface, the water was less acidic, suggesting the kelp canopy does reduce acidity.