Preventing Marine Debris with Bio-based Packaging and Community Composting in Alaska
The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies is working with students and the public to identify and reduce single-use plastics while evaluating and encouraging the use of bio-based packaging alternatives.
Type of Project: Prevention
Project Dates: September 2022 - December 2024
Who is involved?
With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies is working with the University of Alaska Anchorage to develop and grow bio-based mycelium cooler materials through a collaborative effort across groups in the community. Students and staff from the Kenai Peninsula College and the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program are using space donated by Coal Point Seafoods to test the growth and assembly of the coolers, which will then be tested by local fishing industry partners including Salmon Sisters and the Kachemak Bay Shellfish Growers Co-Op.
What is the project and why is it important?
The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies is working in the Kachemak Bay and Kenai Peninsula regions of Alaska to assess and reduce single-use plastics and packaging, and offering and encouraging the use of sustainable alternatives. The city of Homer has a significant fishing industry, including commercial, recreational, and charter operations. These operations often use foamed plastic coolers to allow people to carry or ship their catch back to their homes, creating a consistent and ongoing single-use plastic consumption cycle in the community. The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies has a history of working to collaboratively identify and reduce these single-use cycles, and has assembled a consortium of partners for a pilot project to identify alternatives.
The University of Alaska Anchorage is partnering with local colleges in Homer to pilot the development and use of bio-based compostable coolers made of mycelium - the root structure of fungi - which will be produced in Alaska from locally grown materials. Students and staff from the Kenai Peninsula College and the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program are using space donated by Coal Point Seafoods to test the growth and assembly of the coolers, which will then be tested by local fishing industry partners. These combined efforts will support the evaluation of a local commercial composting facility in the Kachemak Bay region, allowing for shifts towards materials that can be fully composted locally.