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Alginate and Sustainability

Alginate applications for a sustainable society

Alginate and Sustainability

Alginate applications for a sustainable society

  • JAPAN SDGs Award
  • alterna SUSTAINABLE SELECTION

The sustainability of alginate is maintained by utilizing only cast seaweeds as raw materials and minimizing energy consumption in all manufacturing processes.
Alginate is an essential ingredient in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and contributing to a sustainable society.

Plant-based meat to help save the world from food shortages

▲Plant-based meat

Food shortages are becoming more serious due to global population growth. In particular, the supply of livestock meat is reaching its maximum and there is a protein shortage threat in the near future. A promising solution to these food problems is a technique to process plant proteins, such as soybean, into realistic meat-like products.
Plant-based meat is drawing attention to ease the environmental impact* suffered from livestock and is becoming an essential technology in achieving a sustainable society.

Alginate is playing a key role in supporting these technologies.
Unlike meat, plant-based meat does not become sticky when kneaded. It is necessary to add a "binder" with high binding strength in order to process into a shape such as a burger patty. The unique physical properties of alginate are widely used in the production of plant-based meats for processing and molding.

*According to Food and Agriculture Organization of The United Nations report, Livestock farming is one of the most important causes of environmental problems. It is reported that "18% of greenhouse gases are caused by livestock."

Artificial shark fin to protect sharks from overexploitation

▲Artificial shark fin using alginate (image)

As natural shark fin is a luxury ingredient traded at high prices, over-hunting of sharks has become a problem in various parts of the world. As there are an increasing number of cases where only the shark fin is removed and the damaged shark returned alive to the sea, many countries are banning the distribution of natural shark fin.

Artificial shark fin is a potential solution to these problems.
When processed into spindle shapes using the alginate gelation system, it is possible to make artificial shark fin that resembles natural fin in terms of both appearance and mouthfeel. Artificial shark fin has been popularized worldwide for more than three decades and has exceeded the mere range of "copy foods" and has contributed to the development of a sustainable society based on "sustainable foods" allowing enjoyment of shark fin dishes without causing harm to sharks.

Binding technology to reduce food loss

Food loss means that food which can be consumed is discarded. Worldwide, 1.3 billion tons of consumable food are lost every year, making it a challenge to create a sustainable society.
One of the factors in food loss is "off-cut material" generated in food processing operations. Food is cut or trimmed to form products in accordance with standards, so it is impossible to eliminate the generation of off-cut materials.

For that reason, “Binding technology” is attracting attention, it regenerates valuable products from joining off-cut material together. Alginate can bind off-cut meat into a single meat piece. Alginate can also bind vegetables, onion rings are an example in which alginate has been used for many years.

Experimental Kits for safe and fun learning

▲Salmon roe-style alginate beads experimental kit

Monovalent alginate (sodium alginate) dissolves in water and becomes a liquid. However, when it comes into contact with divalent ions such as calcium, a chemical reaction (ion exchange reaction) occurs and instantly becomes solid (jelly).

Alginate, a dietary fiber derived from seaweed, is safe if ingested. The alginate experimental kit has been adopted widely by many schools because it does not require any dangerous reagents or heating and is easy to try. Social media reviews about the kit have also led to an increase in using the kit as homework during summer vacations.
In recent years, alginate has been used as an experimental educational material to improve the understanding of SDGs and alginate helps provide high-quality educational opportunities.

Regenerative Medicine, to extend healthy life expectancy

"Healthy life expectancy" refers to the period during which people can live independently and healthily in both mind and body. Since the difference between healthy life expectancy and life expectancy is a period requiring long-term care, it is important to extend healthy life expectancy in countries with a developing aging population. Regenerative medicine is an essential technique to tackle the problem of an aging society.

Alginate is used in regenerative medicine as a "biomaterial" that shows no effect when administered to living organisms. For example, when alginate is injected into the knee of a patient whose knee cartilage has worn and is unable to walk, it gels at the affected area and remains in the required area, acting as a scaffold to stimulate chondrocyte regeneration. Research over a decade is in the final stages of clinical trials and practical applications are approaching.
In addition, alginate is used as an ink (base material) for 3D bioprinters that produce artificial organs. In the field of regenerative medicine, interest in alginic acid is increasing year on year.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

We support Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • Make donations to the local community for the improvement of social welfare
  • Visit local high schools, holding science classes
  • Actively hiring retired senior citizens
  • Donate an ambulance and a fire engine to the city of Paine
  • Provide fertilizer to local community
  • Provide free drinking water to the local community
  • Stabilize the income of fishermen and improving their living standards
  • Support zero-hunger program as a council member of United Nations World Food Program