Seaweed is an important crop, currently grown for a number of uses such as thickeners in cosmetics, as a food source and stabilizers for industrial products. The advantages of growing seaweed over land-based crops include their ability to grow significantly faster, does not result in deforestation, does not take up land or require fertilizers.
These desirable traits of seaweed have made it worthy of attention as an alternative to traditional single use plastics. Bioplastic created from seaweed have the potential to combat the amount of plastic found polluting our earth and waterways. Currently Indonesia is the world leader for growing Eucheuma cottonii seaweed, supplying 38% of the seaweed market around the world. Unfortunately, between 2014 and 2016 Bali’s seaweed was attacked by a bacterial infection which was caused by the effects of climate change.
In order to ensure the Indonesian seaweed industry is successful, farmers may benefit from selectively breeding strains of E. cottonii that possess desirable traits that will allow it to be more resilient to continues climate change. If this can be achieved, then this seaweed can be used as an ecofriendly alternative to single use plastic, as well as reducing the need for land-based crops that are also used as eco-alternatives such as cassava.
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