Sometimes, trash and plastic aren’t the only issues when it comes to unwanted things floating in the ocean. For Finnish scuba diver, Mari Granström, she saw exactly how there was so much unmanageable algae blooms in the water that can actually be very harmful to marine life. As a result, he decided to begin a refining company that actually harvests the algae and turns it into a variety of products.
Because particular algae have very similar components to that of petroleum-based chemicals, the similarity allows the replication for how particular products that already exist are manufactured. Some of these products include artificial textiles, cosmetics, fertilizer, detergents, packaging materials and many different kinds of foodstuff.
For Granström, she always used to go diving in the Baltic Sea, which is native to her home. However, it became a problem when the nitrogen and phosphorous nutrients that came from fertilizers used in the farming industries began to flow from the farming fields into the rivers, then from the rivers into the sea. This began a regular movement of “eutrophication,” also known as the massive blooms of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae.
Meanwhile, Granström also learned that there were similar eutrophication events happening in the Caribbean. These end up choking the light and oxygen from the waters beneath the floating algae, and as a result, they damage the precious marine ecosystems in the very same way that huge volcanic ash clouds damage terrestrial ecosystems when they blot out the sun.
Granström, who happens to be a bio-chemist by profession, decided to start the company Origin by Ocean (ObO) as way to combat this issue while being able to provide the world with more sustainable products.
Granström explained, “We wanted to do something to help at both ends of the process, upstream and downstream, as it were—cleaning the seas, but also monetizing a change in consumer behavior.” She also said that in reality, anyone can make a difference in helping solve this issue, just by simply changing the products you use and consume.
The company is focusing on being fully-operational by 2026. The idea is to have their refining headquarters in Finland, while their supply lines are from the Baltic and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. ObO has also managed to attract both commercial investment as well as European Union funding for their projects.
Another industrial and chemicals group that is working closely with ObO is the Finish company, Kiilto, in order to scale up their production methods.
Kiilto’s chief business development officer, Ville Solja, told BBC News in an interview, “If this can be successfully scaled up here, then ObO can replicate similar processes around the globe.”
Moreover, another partnership is also in the works with Sweden’s Nordic Seafarm. Together they are working to create packaged goods that could possible use the bulk algae from ObO to replace the current ingredients in many food companies, such as Ikea.
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