Randy Bonds leaps over a wave off Steamer’s Lane, a popular surf spot in Santa Cruz, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Beaches need a break from plastic and careless people. Until then, a startup in California has an idea for a bio-version of Styrofoam, made from shrimp shells.
Cruz Foam, of Santa Cruz, California, had “the most unusual idea” among a list of startups pitching solutions at a recent Spring Summit for Plug and Play, according to GreenBiz.
The problem: Plastics are showing up on beaches everywhere, fresh and saltwater. What starts out as a discarded beverage cup (made of, let’s say, petroleum-based Styrofoam) eventually breaks up and turns into microplastics, which have become ubiquitous in the environment.
A solution: Since Styrofoam — the trademark name for polystyrene foam — is one of the most common plastics found on beaches, Cruz Foam wanted to create an alternative.
It turns out that CEO John Felts is a surfer, and most surfboards are made from the bad kind of foam, which takes more than 500 years to degrade. Shrimp, crab and lobster shells contain chitin, a biopolymer that can be used to make an eco-foam but usually just goes to waste.