A STUDENT has won an international award for designing plastic bags made from dead fish.

University of Sussex student Lucy Hughes won £30,000 and the Sir James Dyson Award for designing MarinaTex, a plastic-like material made out of dead fish and algae.

The 24-year-old used the hob in her Brighton student flat to test more than 100 designs for her bags over the past eight months. Now she hopes her invention can be used to replace plastic food packaging.

“It makes no sense to me that we’re using plastic for products that have a life-cycle of less than a day,” Lucy, from Twickenham, said. “As a resident of Earth, this problem is hugely important to me.”

MarinaTex looks and feels just like plastic but it has a far better impact on the environment. Unlike plastic, which takes centuries to break down in landfills, MarinaTex bags can be quickly composted within weeks without leaking chemicals into the ground.

This is because they are made from offcuts from the fishing industry, including fish skin and scales. The waste is then mixed with red algae Lucy searched for on the Sussex coast.

Lucy estimates the skin and scales from just one Atlantic cod could produce as many as 1,400 bags of MarinaTex. Though her bags have not been mass-produced, the student says packaging companies are already interested in her invention. Inventor Sir James said Lucy’s designs “elegantly solve” two problems... single-use plastic and food waste.

He said: “I hope it becomes part of a global answer to the abundance of single use plastic waste.”