The World’s First Algae-Based Renewable Flip Flops

This sustainable innovation will definitely have a positive environmental impact on our world.

Nowadays, the effort to eliminate or reduce the amount of pollution we create on this earth is dramatically increasing. Many companies and startups are working on various projects that lead to renewable and sustainable products that can replace non-renewable products. Recently, researchers and students from UC San Diego have done the same. They created the world’s first algae-based, renewable flip flops.

Why flip flops you ask?

Source: UCSD News

According to UC San Diego News, 3 billion petroleum-based flip flops are produced worldwide every year, and eventually ending up as non-biodegradable trash in landfills, rivers and oceans around the globe.

According to Stephen Mayfield,a UC San Diego professor of biology who headed the research effort with Skip Pomeroy, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, “Even though a flip flop seems like a minor product, a throwaway that everyone wears, it turns out that this is the No. 1 shoe in the world. These are the shoes of a fisherman and a farmer. This is the No. 1 shoe in India, the No. 1 shoe in China and the No. 1 shoe in Africa. And, in fact, one of the largest pollutants in the ocean is polyurethane from flip flops and other shoes that have been washed or thrown into rivers and flow into the ocean.”

Source: UCSD News

The first prototypes of their new invention was developed in a York Hall chemistry laboratory. It consist of a flexible, spongy slipper with a Triton logo and a simple strap. Once they go into full production later this year, the researchers’ projected cost would be $3 a pair. This innovation would be a a great change for the world environmentally.

The researchers teamed up two years ago and created the world’s first algae-based surfboard. The UC San Diego scientists cooperated with a local surfboard blank manufacturer, Arctic Foam of Oceanside, to work out how to create a surfboard from algae oil. Their idea was instantly accepted by a surfing industry that was looking for sustainable and environmentally friendly products. This made the 2 professors think of their next step– flip flops.

Source: UCSD News

Last April, Mayfield and Pomeroy were awarded a $50,000 proof-of-concept grant from their campus Office of Research Affairs when they demonstrated the feasibility of their new innovation. The two professors and Michael Burkart, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry created a startup company named Algenesis Materials. Here, they employ some of the students who are working on the flip flops.

Source: UCSD News

“Teaching chemistry in the classroom is sometimes like trying to teach soccer at the chalkboard,” Pomeroy said. “In the laboratory, students are far more engaged when they’re actually trying to solve a problem. Most people will tell you that our students are really, really bright, but they don’t always have practical experience. This is a way to provide them with that.”

The Triton flip flops, shoe soles as well as other polyurethane products that the scientists create from living algae oil are sustainable since the carbon that is used to construct them was pulled from the atmosphere, rather than the underground oil reserves. The scientists also plans to make them biodegradable, by chemically converting the algae oil into polyurethane in a way that will allow the carbon bonds to be degraded by microorganisms.


Read more  The Future of Manufacturing Lies in 6 Key Technologies


UC San Diego

Comments 1

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. surprise you mention the first ever made, running production for billabong Europe , on the container today on a way to retail stores…

The World’s First Algae-Based Renewable Flip Flops

Send this to a friend