29. Jul 2022

Playing guitar with algae

Playing guitar with algae

The German NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk), a public radio and television broadcaster based in Hamburg, recently reported about the German startup "napur" trying to tackle the plastic waste problem with local resources.

The five students behind the startup are making everyday products from algae and leftover coffee. They get all residual materials, usually considered waste, for free – the algae comes from a local cosmetics company, the coffee from a roastery in Kiel. The first product they landed on were guitar picks.
"We first considered from the material we have, what is the lightest thing we can make. Then we thought, a guitar pick is two-dimensional and we can make that relatively easily", says start-up founder Salim Dinzad. “After a period of intensive guitar playing, they are thrown away. Ours can go to the compost", he elaborates.

Napur is operating in the workshop of Kiel’s Science Park and so far the work is still quite low-scale and manual. The mixture of algae and PLA, which is used as a binder, is heated in the melting furnace until it is soft enough to be beaten into a plate with an iron block – the startup currently relies on pure muscle power for this. Then a laser cutter cuts guitar picks out of the cooled green plate in seconds and with millimetre precision.

The team came together in May 2021 to create degradable plastic alternatives. They finance themselves mainly by winning competitions and promotional prizes. "The nice thing is that in this ‘sustainability startup sphere’ is full of nice people who burn to make a difference and are very keen in supporting your efforts", says Salim happily.

At the moment, they produce the products on demand. To expand, they are looking for collaborations with opticians and music shops and want to buy faster machines. To raise the necessary funds, mainly to buy the PLA binder, they recently finished a crowd-funding campaign which got them a small boost of EUR 5,000 – this should provide enough material to carry out an extensive series of tests and ensure production for at least half a year. They are also applying for the Schleswig-Holstein start-up grant in September. Currently the startup can be found on instagram @napur.kiel.

One goal of the startup is to use part of their profits to support suitable environmental protection projects, such as seagrass reforestation in the Baltic Sea. AT


based on a German article by Alexa Dudda

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