Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

What is the name of your organization?

PT Seaweedtama Biopac Indonesia

What is the name of your solution?

Seaweed-based biodegradable syringe and capsule

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

We innovate seaweed-based flexible bioplastic, ink, hard capsules, and semi-rigid containers; the former two have been launched already, and the other two are in the prototype stage. By modifying our straw mold into a syringe mold, we can develop biodegradable syringes.

What specific problem are you solving?

Plastic waste harms wildlife and damages the ecosystem. Plastic emits CO2 during production and waste management. Plastic and its disintegrating particles, microplastic and nanoplastic, cause adverse effects on all living things, including plants, animals, and humans. The animals mistake plastic waste for feed or are entrapped in it. Microplastics are present in the air, sea salt, and water. The most terrifying fact is that nanoplastics accumulate in human lungs, blood, and the placenta. It's been found that nanoplastic in the placenta leads to preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction. Despite its negative effects, single-use plastic is still needed, including in the medical sector.

The second environmental problem that we could solve is the climate crisis due to global CO2 emissions. We utilize seaweed, which sequesters CO2, converts it into biomass, and generates oxygen through the photosynthesis process. Due to the fact that CO2 solubility in seawater is higher than that in the air, seaweed absorbs CO2 more efficiently than terrestrial plants do. In addition, we absorb the oversupply of seaweed, which leaves the seaweed farmers vulnerable. Seaweed cultivation is fast—only 45 days—so if they could not sell until the next 45 days, their house would be full of seaweed and they would have to stop farming. The farmers have no bargaining power and are entrapped in endless debt to money lenders who come to their homes and seashores to buy the seaweed in cash. Once the farmers plan to farm seaweed again, they have to source the seedling and pay for its transportation costs.

Syringes are used every day to deliver medicines, vaccines, and feed. It has marking lines, is wrapped in single-use plastic, and is printed with the brand and all essential information about the product, manufacturer, and distributor. This product contributes significantly to plastic waste pollution but is not replaceable by any other product. The global disposable syringe market was valued at USD 14.1 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.21% from 2023 to 2030.

Hard capsules are another medical device that we target to overcome the problems in existing commercial hard capsules, both gelatin and HPMC. As a raw material for hard capsules, pharmacy-grade gelatin has to be of higher quality than food-grade gelatin. Using cow-based gelatin has a risk of transmitting mad cow disease from cow to human, while pork-based gelatin is not acceptable for Muslims, and fish gelatin is suitable for food grade. HPMC is a niche market due to its expensive price, about 8 times that of gelatin-based capsules. The global market size of hard capsules in 2022 was USD 7.67 billion and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.9% from 2022 to 2030. Driven by the optimism that protecting the environment and improving livelihoods could be achieved together, we established Biopac in November 2019. Our first customer came from the food sector, but now we have expanded to personal care, tourism, and craft, and we are ready to enter the medical device sector.

What is your solution?

We build an integrated system to solve problems sustainably without sacrificing the ecosystem, including the environment and consumers. We empower seaweed farmers to supply high-quality and on-time delivery seaweed for us. They implement plastic-free seaweed farming and ship their seaweed to our warehouse using jute bags as packaging. We secure our seaweed demand and provide the farmers with a better livelihood.

Since March 2020, we have manufactured seaweed-based bio-packaging for various applications such as food, personal care, fashion, craft, and tourism. We also have prototypes for seaweed-based straws, cups, and bowls that are waiting to be launched. We have not entered the medical device sector yet, but we obviously see that there is a huge demand for single-use plastic in that sector. Two low-hanging fruits in the medical device sector are biodegradable syringes and hard capsules.

We propose to develop a whole biodegradable syringe. It consists of a seaweed-based disposable syringe with seaweed-based marking ink, wrapped in seaweed-based flexible bioplastic, and printed with seaweed-based ink for its logo and all product information. We will make the syringe using the same technology that we use to make seaweed-based straws. Regardless of the environmental impacts of the liquids delivered through the syringe, the after-use syringe and its primary packaging are safe for the environment.

We have developed seaweed-based hard capsules to replace gelatin-based hard capsules since 2013. We have evaluated our capsule for its thickness and disintegration speed in water and stomach acid solutions. We registered its processing technology as patent in Indonesia (P00201300673) and PCT (WO2015033331A1), and this patent was granted in 2017 (IDP000046628). To commercialize our invention, the hard capsule manufacturer can use the existing processing machine for manufacturing gelatin-based hard capsules by adjusting some processing parameters.

Using seaweed as Biopac® material provides additional benefits. Due to the fact that CO2 solubility in seawater is 100 times higher than in the air, seaweed absorbs CO2 and generates oxygen better than terrestrial plants do for their photosynthesis process. The Marine Stewardship Council reported that seaweed protects coastlines from erosion and provides habitats for all kinds of animal life. Seaweed aquaculture reduces ocean acidity and contributes to maintaining ocean health.

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

We will deliver biodegradable syringes and hard capsules to hospitals, pharmacies, and veterinary hospitals. We have not either done product market fit testing or engaged the users yet for the disposable syringe. We believe that we could help the users reduce their waste management costs due to syringes and their packaging waste as well as improve their business sustainability by reducing their non-degradable waste that is usually categorized as toxic and dangerous goods.

We developed seaweed-based hard capsules in 2013–2015 by collaborating with Kapsulindo Nusantara, a local hard capsule manufacturer in West Java, Indonesia. We had done some trials using the existing capsule production machine, and we found that our seaweed is compatible with that machine by elevating the dipping temperature. We also had an intense discussion with the production and marketing managers in Kapsulindo Nusantara about the variants of capsules. Based on their size, capsules are available from 000 to 5; the most common size is 0. Based on their intended use, capsules are differentiated into slow- and fast-release capsules. Based on the colors, capsules could be original (without any additional color), standard, or metallic. To evaluate our capsule disintegration properties in water and stomach acid, we sent our sample to the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Pancasila, West Java. By using seaweed, we provide all the benefits of seaweed over gelatin as the raw material for the capsule. The hard capsule manufacturer can save on gelatin quarantine costs, increase product safety, and gain a bigger consumer preference, especially among those who desire plant-based capsules, without increasing the capsule price.

Upstream, we provide benefits to seaweed farmers by sustaining and improving their income. Some days ago, we read heartbreaking news about seaweed farmers in Wakatobi Regency, the eastern part of Indonesia. The seaweed farmers there have lived in poverty for decades. Their income is uncertain, ranging from USD 1,044–1,770 per family annually, or approximately USD 0.71–1.21 per day per person. We aim to empower 114 seaweed farmer families in Tomia and East Tomia (2 subdistricts in Wakatobi Regency) to utilize 57 ha of the ocean to farm seaweed using plastic-free practices and produce 615 tons of seaweed annually. Through this project, we sustain and improve the farmers' income to USD 4,417.26 annually, or USD 3.03 per day per person. During cultivation, seaweed sequesters 1100 tons of CO2 annually, converts it into biomass, and generates 800 tons of oxygen through the photosynthesis process. However, the impacts will not stop at those numbers or when the grant ends. We see the grant as a seed that grows and will bear fruit in the future.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

We are the right team to design and deliver seaweed-based syringes and hard capsules in terms of raw material availability, processing technology, team capability, and the support system. Indonesia, our home country, comprises 1,900,000 km2 of land and 6,400,000 km2 of seawater, with a coastline length of 108,000 km. According to data from Statistics Indonesia 2021 entitled Results of the Potential Fisheries Commodity Survey Seaweed Aquaculture, the total seaweed production in Indonesia in 2020 was 501 thousand tons. This number is much lower than the total potential because the market is not ready to absorb more seaweed. Thus, raw material availability is secured, and there is no risk of competing with existing seaweed processors.

We have patented our processing technology for seaweed-based hard capsules (IDP000046628), but we have not developed disposable syringes yet. We are sure we could because we have developed semi-rigid containers and patented our technology (P00201906539, WO2021019524A1), including cups, bowls, and straws. We could manufacture seaweed-based syringes using the syringe mold. Our current products, seaweed-based flexible packaging and ink, that have been available on the market, are suitable to meet all the rest of the items in the disposable syringe so that the whole syringe and its packaging are biodegradable.

As clearly stated in our vision to be a true biodegradable packaging manufacturer, we ensured the biodegradability of our products prior to spreading them worldwide. Our packaging products have a Certificate of Conformity from TUV Germany that confirms our packaging products pass the test against 219 substances of very high concern, and we are in the final process of home compostability certification from TUV Germany, which has taken 8 months for the whole assessment testing and evaluation.

Our innovation team is led by Noryawati and Asaf. Noryawati is our director, with a background as a chemist and food scientist. She has 4 patents granted in Indonesia (IDP 000038531 for biodegradable packaging from Indonesian nontimber products, IDP000044135 for seaweed-based edible bioplastic, IDP000046628 for seaweed-based capsules, and IDP000086651 for biodegradable plastic from renewable plant-based polymers) and 1 in-process patent (P00201906539 for seaweed-based containers). From those 5 patents, 4 have been registered in the PCT (WO2014108887A2, WO2015033331A1, WO2021019524A1, and WO2021019525A1), and 1 has been granted in the USA (US20220251390A1). Asaf is our technical advisor, with a background in chemical engineering from undergraduate to doctoral studies. His expertise is in seaweed processing factory layout and bioplastic engineering. He has published his research output in international seminars and journal articles.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

  • Create and promote alternative packaging that may be reusable, recyclable, or biodegradable without compromising sterility or safety.

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Tangerang, Tangerang City, Banten, Indonesia

In what country is your solution team headquartered?

  • Indonesia

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization testing a product, service, or business model with a small number of users

How many people does your solution currently serve?

168 B2B customers from 25 countries.

Why are you applying to the Prize?

We do believe that both Horizon and MIT could be strategic partners to enter the medical device sector and expand the environmental and social impacts of that sector together and worldwide. The obstacle to launching a seaweed-based hard capsule, though the prototype has been ready since 2015, is the lead time and high capital required before we could start the operation, which is at least 5 years. Before we knew this burden, we had obtained investors who were thrilled to see our prototype and the market opportunity. However, when we faced this burden, they decided to cancel the investment. It does not make sense for them to invest with a payback period no faster than 10 years, comprising the first 5 years for the legal permit, 1 year for marketing and promotion, and 4 years after we start the operation.

Without compromising the safety aspect or product quality, Horizon does not need a 5-year lead time to add seaweed-based hard capsules and syringes to the product gallery because they have been registered as a pharmacy company. By using our innovation, Horizon can save on R&D costs and time to advance the innovation. As the most advanced technology-based university, MIT has all the resources that we need to convert our prototype into a commercial product. The grant will be used to design small-capacity machines for making the samples, do market research, refine our products, and first step up to commercial scale.

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Noryawati Mulyono

How is your Team Lead connected to the community or communities in which your project is based?

I am a member of an Indonesian seaweed farmers cooperative called Rumput Laut Center, so we could collect primary data for measuring the social and environmental impacts of seaweed cultivation.

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative and sustainable?

We create and promote seaweed-based biodegradable syringes and their primary packaging, as well as seaweed-based hard capsules, using our proprietary technology, followed by UV sterilization to assure their sterility and safety. Our innovative solution addresses plastic waste from various sectors by using seaweed as our material.

Seaweed comprises more than 500 species with various technical and functional properties. By choosing the right species and combining some species for manufacturing syringes and capsules, we create synergistic interactions and obtain the optimum technical and functional properties of syringes and capsules. The innovation of creating semi-rigid containers, including syringes and capsules, is more challenging than that of creating flexible packaging. We strive to make the entire production process as environmentally friendly as possible, starting with the optimization of seaweed cultivation, solar-based drying and shipment, product innovation, the manufacturing process, and distribution. As a pioneer in seaweed-based bioplastic development and manufacturing, we hold five patents on seaweed-based products and packaging.

We empower seaweed farmers to farm and produce high-quality seaweed using sustainable practices, which include removing the use of disposable water bottles as buoys and plastic bags to pack the seaweed.

Biopac utilizes seaweed to manufacture seaweed-based bio-packaging, branded as Biopac®. Biopac® is not only affordable but also eco-friendly, biodegradable, compostable, and free from harmful chemicals. It has a shelf life of up to two years when stored in an airtight container. 

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

We define our impact goals regarding the 17 SDGs, which could be grouped into social, environmental, and economic impacts. From now to the next 3 years, we will contribute 77 targets out of the 169 targets in the 17 SDGs. For social impact, we are aligned with 27 targets in SDGs 1–3 and SDG 5. Our social impact is improving seaweed farmers’ livelihoods by securing and increasing their income so that we can help set them free from poverty and hunger and they can have good well-being. In seaweed farmer families, women have important roles in preparing the seedling, doing post-harvest processing, and managing the cash flow.

We are aligned with 30 targets in SDGs 11–15 for environmental development. The intended use of our products is to replace nondegradable syringes and packaging to reduce single-use plastic pollution on land, in the air, and in the ocean. Plastic production and waste management emit CO2, the main contributor to the climate crisis. By using seaweed, we contribute to absorbing CO2 and generating oxygen during photosynthesis, so that we reduce ocean acidity and improve ocean productivity.

For SDG 8–10 and SDG 17 in economic development, we are aligned with 20 targets. Our business reduces the unemployment rate and creates jobs for production, social media, and salespeople. To apply for a job in our company, a college degree is not compulsory because there are many marginalized people who cannot pursue college studies but have good values and character. We protect the rights of all Biopac team members and promote safe and secure working environments by providing safety shoes for our production team members, from operators to directors. Our company is an innovation-based company, and we support productive activities in our company and with our strategic partners to promote mutual partnerships. In the next five years, we will create an impact on SDG 7 by using solar energy and improving energy efficiency by using Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE).

We do believe that our impacts grow as the business grows, so sustaining the business growth means sustaining the impact growth. We will have created significant impacts in reducing plastic waste pollution and micro- and nano-plastics thereof, reducing GHG emissions and the severity of the climate crisis, and improving ocean productivity for the next 5 years. We hope there will be more seaweed farmers who have better livelihoods and zero human trafficking in seaweed, and our employees will have good well-being and education access for their children.

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

We will make a comprehensive impact report comprising:

  • Database of seaweed farmers: their ages, income, number of family members, their children's education, and any qualitative data to describe their livelihoods (SDG 1-3, 5).
  • Database of seaweed cultivation: total seaweed amount and the proximity of CO2 sequestration and oxygen generation throughout the cultivation process (SDG 13–14).
  • Database of our employees: their ages, range of salary, the female and male percentage at every level from operators to directors, number of family members, their children's education, and any qualitative data to describe their livelihoods (SDG 1-3, 5, 8).
  • Database of our customers: the segment, country, and product application of our products; their purchase quantity to replace single-use plastic (SDG 8, 9, 13–15, 17).
    • Database of our social media posts to educate people about the climate crisis (SDG 13).

Describe in simple terms how and why you expect your solution to have an impact on the problem.


Problems: plastic waste pollution and poverty in seaweed farmer families

Our activities:

  • Empowering seaweed farmers to farm seaweed through plastic-free farming
  • Manufacturing, marketing, and selling our products. For the medical device sector, we produce biodegradable disposable syringes and hard capsules, packed and printed by Biopac® packaging.
  • Applying product certification regarding the regulation.
  • Doing research and innovation regarding market demand.

Our outputs:

  • We could afford plastic-free practices during seaweed farming and shipping, thus increasing its sustainability.
  • Our products are sustainable and certified.

Our outcomes:

  • The seaweed demand for our farmers increases, so the farmers’ income increases accordingly.
  • Our products meet the customer's specifications and expectations.

Our social impacts:

  • Improve seaweed farmers livelihoods
  • Create jobs and reduce the unemployment rate.

Our environmental impacts:

  • Reduce single-use plastic pollution.
  • Reduce CO2 emissions and ocean acidity.
  • Generate oxygen and improve ocean productivity.

Our mission to regenerate the earth by stopping more plastic waste on land and in the ocean and improving the well-being of all living things will be accomplished.

If your solution is tech-based, describe the core technology that powers your solution.

To make seaweed-based hard capsules, we use the same dipping method as used in gelatin-based hard capsule manufacturing, so that the existing dipping machine as well as laboratory equipment for QC are compatible.

To make the syringe, we have no opportunity to try the blow molding machine. But the body of a syringe is similar to that of a capsule or straw, the hollow cylinder, so we are sure we could make it.

We could use our seaweed-based ink to put the marks on the syringe and to print the primary packaging of the capsule and ink with the brand logo and all needed product information. 

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Materials Science

If your solution has a website, app, or social media handle, provide the link(s) here:

In which countries do you currently operate?


In which countries will you be operating within the next year?


Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit

How many people work on your solution team?

We have 10 full-time employees and 13 part-time staff and contractors.

How long have you been working on your solution?

My research into developing bioplastics began in 2010. Considering the huge amount of plastic and metalized sachet waste and the customers’ pain while opening each small sachet, I set the seasoning sachet in instant noodles as my first target market. Then, the product and market evolve. Our innovation has expanded to other products, such as capsules, cups, bowls, straws, rolls, and ink. Among all prototypes, ink is our lowest-hanging fruit because the market and production facility are ready and no additional legal documents are needed. Thus, we have flexible packaging and ink in our product gallery.

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

Our work comprises an upstream part during seaweed farming and a downstream part during seaweed processing. In all parts, we respect diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Upstream, seaweed farming is a household business, non-capital intensive, and more socially inclusive. It is managed by the wife, whose roles are to prepare seaweed seedlings, dry the harvested seaweed, perform quality control, dry and pack seaweed, and manage the cashflow, while the husband’s roles are to monitor seashore cleanliness and seaweed growth, harvest, and bring the harvested seaweed to the shore. We encourage the cooperative to periodically train seaweed farmers about good agricultural practices to produce high-quality seaweed and basic accounting to keep their cash flow healthy. By producing high-quality seaweed, we could pay them a good price and sustain their income. Finally, they are free from the risk of human trafficking.

In downstream, our seaweed manufacturing company is led by two women as chairwoman and director, supported by production crews, advisors, a patent attorney, a tax consultant, and a website designer. We respect gender equality when hiring employees and building partnerships. Every employee, at all levels, signs an agreement that they fully understand and obey our commitment to not provide any space or tolerance for sexual abuse, either physically or verbally.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?


Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Organizations (B2B)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

To achieve financial sustainability, we have to achieve business sustainability. We consider revenue from different streams, and we use grants and investments for different purposes.

Our current revenue streams are product sales, sponsorship, and grants. We market our products online and offline to direct users, resellers, and communities. We welcome contract orders in bulk to provide the most affordable price. The grant is used to scale up from laboratory to pilot scale, apply for product certification, promote the product, and partially support shipping costs for our strategic marketing partners overseas. The investment is used to multiply our production lines, of which the first line has been available, and to expand our production facility. We plan to have distributors in every country so that we can deliver our product in bulk by sea freight and save on shipping costs.

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

We would like to share three user cases from last year and this year. Last year, we were supported by some institutions that sponsored The Single-Use Plastic Challenge. They provided a US$5000 grant that was intended to introduce our Biopac packaging to local F&B outlets and promote this initiative to raise people's awareness. We provided and delivered our products for free to 2 F&B outlets in Jakarta for 1 month. After F&B outlets experienced that their customers didn’t mind paying slightly more for products with truly eco-friendly packaging, they continued to order our products even though the funding support had ended. We were also supported by the US-Asean Smart Cities Partnership Program last year to apply for home compostability certification, which cost US$23,500. This certificate is very important to enable our customers to differentiate our products from other bioplastics that may not be fully home-compostable. However, without the grant support, this expensive cost, which is directly connected to the product, should be considered part of the cost of Goods Sold and decrease our product's competitiveness.

Currently, we are in deep discussion with GoTo, who wants to recommend Biopac® for their merchants. Their merchant will order Biopac® directly so that GoTo can reduce their single-use plastic waste significantly and increase their ratings from customers in terms of GoTo's awareness of the environment.

Solution Team

  • Dr Noryawati Mulyono S.Si. Biopac: Ocean-based solution to tackle climate crisis., PT Seaweedtama Biopac Indonesia
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