A team of researchers from the University of Leeds has developed a compostable plastic wrap using an invasive seaweed species called sargassum, (Sargassum natans), which is found in the Caribbean. The researchers mixed the seaweed with acid, salt and other chemicals to create a biopolymer that can be made into sheets of film similar to conventional plastic wrap. The material is environmentally friendly and can decompose in just two to three weeks, compared to the months or even years it takes for existing biodegradable plastics to break down in a compost heap.Despite its rapid decomposition, the films are strong and heat-resistant, and can withstand temperatures of up to 230C. The film does not release any chemicals when exposed to water for up to 10 days, making it safe to use for covering moist containers of food, such as chopped fruit.The researchers are now studying the whole supply chain to determine the best application for the material and its environmental impact from lab to consumer. Koon-Yang Lee, a member of the research team from Imperial College London, emphasised that the study of the entire supply chain is crucial for developing sustainable materials.The development of this material has the potential to revolutionise the supply chain of plastic wrap, which is used extensively in restaurants around the world. However, further testing is needed to determine how the material will perform in mass production, and to assess the water and energy requirements of any new production methods that may be required.It is a significant step forward in the quest for sustainable materials, and could have a positive impact on both the environment as well as on local communities.