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New Water 'Bottles' Could Help Fight Plastic Pollution

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Scientists and designers in London have found a possible solution to the problem of plastic bottle waste.

The group at Skipping Rocks Lab has made a water bottle you can eat.

The product is called Ooho. Unlike plastic bottles, Oohos are not tall and hard. They look more like bubbles, or small, round, clear balls. They can hold liquid inside.

People who drink Oohos can be surprised: the outside bursts in the mouth.

Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez is with Skipping Rocks Lab. He explains that the outside, or the membrane, of Ooho is made of seaweed, a plant that grows in the ocean.

'It's a membrane made of seaweed that can contain water or any kind of liquid. It's made from an extract of the brown seaweed.”

The Ooho membrane is tasteless, and you can eat it. But the company says even if you throw away the membrane, it will degrade in about four weeks.

Gonzales says the membrane is strong, and good for the environment.

Every year, billions of plastic water bottles are thrown away, polluting land and waterways around the world.

The typical water bottle made of plastic can take hundreds of years to degrade. Lise Honsinger is also with Skipping Rocks Lab.

'Most people just grab a bottle of water, hold it for five minutes, drink it, throw it away. How can that then exist for 700 years? So, yeah, this is absolutely a solution to that. We are very purist; we don't want to see this packaged in plastic. No, this will be served as-is, as a packaging.'

There are limits to the Ooho. It cannot be refilled. Each bottle is small. And Oohos do not store for more than a few days.

The Skipping Rocks Lab is working on those issues.

'We're still working on things like extending the shelf life, looking at different options in terms of thickness, if we want to make one that stands up more, or more flexible for marathons where people just want to eat it whole.'

Right now, Skipping Rocks Lab can make only a few thousand Oohos a day. But it is developing new technology that could increase that number to hundreds of thousands.

I'm Caty Weaver.

Kevin Enochs wrote this story for VOA News. Anne Ball adapted it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and visit us on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

bubble – n. a tiny, round ball of air or gas inside a liquid

membrane – n. a thin sheet or layer

extract – n. a substance that you get from something by using a machine or chemicals

sphere – n. a round object

flexible – adj. capable of bending or being bent

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