Biodegradable flip flops made from algae developed by University of California lab team

Flip flops, made from algae, that are biodegradable have been developed by researchers at University of California, San Diego.

This eco-friendly version of the iconic beach footwear is the brainchild of Mike Burkart, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the public research university in San Diego, California, who has developed a polymer from algae, which decomposes naturally.

Mike Burkart told Reuters: “We begin by growing algae and we grow them in raceway ponds where we can grow them up to very high density. At that point when they are fully grown, we take the water out of them…and basically we’re able to get the algae down to a very viscous paste.

“Then what we do is extract all the lipids out of that algae and it’s those lipids that we’re making our materials out of.”

The laboratory initially made gasoline from algae before turning its attention to surfboards, and now flip flops.

Flip flops – which are affordable and popular around the world – make up a significant portion of discarded plastics polluting oceans and seas.

However, Mike Burkart is hoping his algae-based shoe-wear will change that. He said: “Almost every major shoe manufacturer has come to talk to us about the possibility of using our materials in their products.”

Mike Burkart and his team are also in talks with other companies to create food packaging and other types of materials that decompose or recyclable.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at

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