The 2019 UK winner of the James Dyson Award winner has gone on to win the overall James Dyson Award 2019. The tech, picked by three judges including myself, was whittled down from over 135 entries from students across the UK submitted to Dyson.
The UK and overall winner this year is University of Sussex graduate Lucy Hughes for her innovating MarinaTex material.
"Young engineers have the passion, awareness and intelligence to solve some of the world’s biggest problems…" Sir James Dyson told Pocket-lint in a statement following the results. "MarinaTex elegantly solves two problems: the ubiquity of single-use plastic and fish waste. Further research and development will ensure that MarinaTex evolves further, and I hope it becomes part of a global answer to the abundance of single use plastic waste."
A bioplastic made of organic fish waste ordinarily destined for landfill or incineration and locally sourced red algae, the new material will look and feel like plastic, but is actually stronger, safer, and much more sustainable than its counterpart.
But where the success, in terms of the environment, really shows through, is that the material biodegrades after four to six weeks.
Frustrated by the pointless uses of single-use plastic - the average usage time of a plastic bag is 10 minutes - Hughes challenged herself to find a sustainable alternative derived from an existing waste stream, fish offcuts.
Already in prototyping stages, Hughes hopes the new material will replace things like baked goods bags in supermarkets and the see-thru cellophane on sandwich boxes amongst other things.
"Plastic is an amazing material, and as a result, we have become too reliant on it as designers and engineers. It makes no sense to me that we’re using plastic, an incredibly durable material, for products that have a life-cycle of less than a day," explains the winner. "For me, MarinaTex represents a commitment to material innovation and selection by incorporating sustainable, local and circular values into design. As creators, we should not limit ourselves to designing to just form and function, but rather form, function and footprint."
As national winner of the James Dyson Award, Hughes will receive £2,000 for winning the UK leg as well as a further £30,000 for winning the overall competition.
You can listen to an interview with Lucy Hughes on the latest episode of the Pocket-lint podcast.
The panel, which also included James Roberts, previous JDA international winner 2014 for his invention mOm, and Rhys Morgan, Director of Engineering and Education at The Royal Academy of Engineering, picked two runners up. Afflo, a device that helped asthma sufferers and the SunUp Solar Backpack, a backpack that includes an innovative solar panel to recharge it.