A UNIVERSITY student has invented a biodegradable plastic bag made from fish guts.

Lucy Hughes, 23, from the University of Sussex, has tried to solve the problem of single-use plastics and inefficient waste by harnessing fish offcuts to create a unique plastic alternative.

Lucy created her produce MarinaTex as part of her product design degree.

Tonnes of unwanted offcuts from the fish processing industry including offal, blood, shells, fins and scales end up in landfill every year.

Lucy looked to the Sussex coastline to find some way of binding the fish proteins together and discovered red algae.

She finally created a consistent and plastic-like material that was both biodegradable and translucent, giving it the name MarinaTex.

Lucy said: “Plastic is an amazing material, and as a result we have become too reliant on it as designers and engineers. It makes no sense to me that we’re using plastic, an incredibly durable material, for products that have a life-cycle of less than a day.

“ For me, MarinaTex represents a commitment to material innovation and selection by incorporating sustainable, local and circular values into design. As creators, we should not limit ourselves in designing to just form and function, but rather form, function and footprint.”

Her ingenious and environmentally friendly product has now won her the Dyson Award for Innovation.

As national winner, Lucy will receive £2,000 as well as moving on to the international round of the competition, for a chance to win £30,000.

Lucy aims to commercialise her invention sustainably, using her award money for further research into how MarinaTex can become a global answer to wasteful single use plastic.

MarinaTex is a translucent and flexible sheet material, so it can be used as wrapping or packaging.

Initial testing suggests that it is stronger, safer and much more sustainable than its oil-based counterpart. Its unique formula gives it strength and flexibility. And she says the material requires relatively little energy to produce.

She said it biodegrades after four to six weeks, is suitable for home composting and does not leak toxins, removing the need for its own waste management infrastructure. By using byproducts from the fishing industry, it is also reducing waste.