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Seaweed in cosmetics wins green technology funding

By Leah Armstrong , 24-Jun-2009
Last updated on 24-Jun-2009 at 12:45 GMT

The Technology Strategy Board has invested in a project to develop skin and hair care products using natural compounds from British seaweed varieties.

The project is one of 18 others in a total investment of ₤20 million in ‘green technology’, which aims to develop new or improved sustainable materials, processes and products in the UK.

Sustainable seaweed production

The objective of this particular project is to develop a comprehensive range of hair colorants and hair and skin care agents derived from British seaweeds using sustainable technology throughout its life cycle from source, through production, to end use and appropriate disposal.

Shetland seaweed company Bod Ayre is leading the project. Although it will be largely funded by the Technology Strategy board, contributions were also made from project collaborators, including Bod Ayre.

Margaret Blance from Bod Ayre said the company was pleased to be involved in the project and added that “the wonderful variety of seaweeds on Shetland could enable us to develop several products for different applications”.

The seaweed project lasts two years and is worth just over ₤500,000.

Project for innovation

The Technology Strategy Board was set up to bring businesses and researchers together to deliver new technology-based products and services. In this case, Bod Ayre is benefitting from the research of Dr Richard Blackburn and Professor Chris Rayner, natural products researchers at the University of Leeds.

Sustainable materials processors Critical Processes, green chemistry colorants experts DyeCat, leading cosmetics consultants Independent Cosmetics Advice, chemical formulations specialists Higgins Consultancy and international natural products retailer The Body Shop, are also acting as partners in the project.

By bringing together a consortium of businesses like this, the Technology Strategy Board hopes to develop products and processes that can create significant opportunities for a UK sustainable material.

The Techonology Strategy Board’s lead technologist Alan Hooper said: “the development of sustainable products and materials is vital if we are to respond successfully to the many environmental and energy challenges that we face, and investing in the development of green technology is one of the Technology Strategy Board’s top priorities”.

Other projects in the green technology investment include the re-use of shellfish waste products for packaging and sustainable detergent for domestic laundry.

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