We all know at least two types of seaweed, the one holding our sushi together and the smelly one at the beach. Most people will have memories, good or bad, regarding seaweed and the smell they can produce when rotting on the beaches in the summer or when walking through the shallow water with kids clinging on to your back, refusing to walk through the seaweed forrest, home to HUGE crabs, at the local beaches in the summer.
But there is a lot more to seaweed than that, and if we are to meet any of the Global Goals in time and become more sustainable in our everyday life - algae and seaweed might just be the hero we have been waiting for...actually, that has always been here.
Below is different takes on working with algae as a sustainable resource:
By Lone Thybo Mouritsen, Head of research and fundracing, Algecenter Danmark
Seaweed is a stable part of the menu in many Asian countries, but not very common in Europe. However, as sushi gets more and more mainstream and seaweed salad can be found next to at the pickled herring at the fishmonger the focus on seaweed as a sea vegetable increase.
Seaweed is a both healthy, sustainable and interesting addition to the menu. Seaweed contains a lot of important vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, proteins, omega-3 fatty acids and bioactive compounds. Some species are rich in glutamic acid adding savory flavor or the taste of umami to a dish.
Photo: Lone Thybo Mouritsen
However, seaweed has a potential use for much more than just a more or less exotic food item. Substances extracted from seaweed are already widely used as ingredients regulating the texture of for example mayonnaise, ice cream or toothpaste, but seaweed can also be utilized in the production of food supplements, healthy animal feed, bioenergy, fertilizer, nutraceuticals, medicine and materials and much more.
In AlgaeCentre Denmark the public aquarium Kattegatcentret, Aarhus University and Danish Technological Institute work together in order to do research and development, stimulate sustainable industrial development and communicate broadly the numerous potentials of using algae for many purposes.
Photo: Lone Thybo Mouritsen
In AlgaeCentre Denmark the public aquarium Kattegatcentret, Aarhus University, and Danish Technological Institute work together in order to do research and development, stimulate sustainable industrial development and communicate broadly the numerous potentials of using algae for many purposes.
The use of seaweed for many purposes support the UN global goals for sustainable development especially no. 2 - Zero hunger, no. - 3 Good health and well-being, no. 7 - Affordable and clean energy, no. 11 - Sustainable cities and communities, no. 12 - Responsible consumption and production, no. 13 - Climate action and no. 14 - Life below water.
The 3 Global Goals both Vain Dane Athletic and Algaecenter work towards, each in our own way:
For the Kattegatcentre it is very important to be part of projects that makes a real difference for a cleaner marine environment and life in the ocean and also for a more sustainable future.
By Tina Søgaard-Pedersen, Owner of Vain Dane Athletic
Algae and seaweed is not only a solution to hunger and CO2 reduction. It can also be a substitute for different forms of plastic. From an alternative to cling film for your sandwich to textile fibers reducing the need for synthetic fibers and cotton, which is heavily dependent of large quantities of water draining the areas where its grown.
One of the big problems with synthetic sportswear made from nylon, polyester, or acrylic, is that regardless of the textile being a recycled or regenerated material, then it will release micro and nanoplastic during washing. The micro and nano plastic goes through the washing machine out with the water and finds its way to the oceans.
Photo: Tina Søgaard-Pedersen, textile with 20% sea cell fibers
However, running in all cotton or linen is not ideal. The elastic fibers are necessary for swimsuits and leggings. Seaweed is already being used in textiles although still mainly as a component to be mixed with organic cotton. Vain Dane Athletic would love to buy testiles containing sea cells, but the price is still so high that for a small company buying small quantities, its not an option - yet.
By sponsoring an organisation dedicated to develop algae as an alternative material is a big part of our company vision. The more money and time invested into research the better the chances for usable solutions helping reduce CO2, hunger, and reduce our dependence on plastic.
Last time Vain Dane Athletic visited Kattegatcentret, we had an interesting tour of Pure Algae Denmark's land based algae facilities in Grenaa. Pure Algae grows seaweed - on land. They design, build, and operate a unique cultivation system that enables an increase in seaweed production at a reduced space and water through an energy optimized technology.
Photo: Tina Søgaard-Pedersen, Pure Algae's testing facility
Founder of Pure Algae, Esben Rimi Christiansen:
"We design, build and operate a new technology, which we will proof can increase the productivity, reduce the costs and most of all – increase the quality of the seaweed and its sustainable footprint."
We highly recommend that you check out their website, Purealgae.dk