A Sustainable and Biodegradable Material Alternative
How do we move towards a
more sustainable future?
As designers, we must be aware of how materiality affects consumer products. Plastic is an often-used material that is utilized in everything from packaging to household items. The problem with plastic items is that they are often quickly disposed of. Plastic takes over 450 years to degrade, which causes the material to build up in landfills.
Kichin: A Solution
Kichin is made completely out of food waste and natural resources. Kichin strives to keep both plastic and waste out of landfills, and is biodegradable when disposed. It also uses heatless manufacturing, which reduces harm to the environment during production.
Food waste is a cheap, abundant, and readily available resource. Kichin turns waste into value by utilizing food waste as a resource, while saving the energy and cost of recycling and manufacturing plastic.
Kichin has the ability to create a community and spread awareness on both large and small scales. Large scale: building a relationship/system of recycling food waste from businesses to manufacturing facilities.
Small scale: community recycling and DIY material making.
Process + Research + Experimentation
Experimenting with Food Waste
Food waste such as peels, seeds, and shells were experimented with. Food waste is both sustainable and biodegradable.
Playing with Chitosan
Chitosan is a biomaterial made out of crustacean shells. We took inspiration from MIT's recipe and research.
Different ingredients and combinations from biology and food waste were tested in order to create a material with the traits we desired.
Combating Warping, Cracking, and Shrinkage
Ingredients were tweaked in order to avoid or mediate these results to make it more durable and reliable.
After the final ingredients were determined, hundreds of iterations were made in order to come to the final material.
Kichin = Food Waste + Sustainable Natural Resources
The fibrous nature of orange peels gives the material its strong and durable structure. The peels also make up the mass of the material.
The chitin from shrimp shells can be used to create Chitosan. Chitosan with acetic acid is used as the perfect binder for all of the ingredients.
Gluten can be extracted from wheat, an abundant resource. The elasticity of gluten decreases brittleness and reduces cracking while drying.
Crickets are an abundant and sustainable source of protein. Protein powder from crickets helps add extra strength and structure to the material.
Plant protein is another sustainable and abundant protein resource and can be an alternative to cricket protein.
Over 40% of our food is thrown out, ending up in landfills. What many don't realize is that rotting food in landfills also contributes to the dangerous
release of greenhouse gases such as methane.
Utilizing the food waste helps to recycle and reduce the amount headed to landfills
We sought out local restaurants and shops in our community for readily available food waste resources. After connecting with a local juice bar that was throwing out bags of orange peels, we decided to integrate the peels as a key ingredient for our material. Although orange peels worked best, we discovered that any fibrous food waste could act as a substitute.
By using food waste to create the material, other resources are not depleted. This also keeps the waste out of landfills, turning waste into value.
Because Kichin is made entirely out of food waste and natural resources, it’s both biodegradable and compostable, taking less time to degrade.
Kichin is extremely durable and structural, making it a good material alternative to hard plastics.
The material has manufacturable
potential due to its moldable ability. It can hold both simple and complex geometries and is able to be sanded, drilled, and polished.
Able to hold complex geometries
Able to mold to rounded geometries
Able to create thin walls, be sanded, and be drilled through
Awards + Recognition
+ Wanted Design: Conscious Design for
+ Lexus Design Award Shortlist
+ Biodesign Challenge Finalist
+ Displayed at SVA Gallery
+ Presented at the MoMA
+ Showcased at the Global Community
+ Showcased at the New Harvest exhibit
Special thanks to GenSpace
Anna Lu, Jil Berenblum, Esther Chang, Phoenix Lai