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Crazy Ooho edible water spheres didn’t pan out, so the company pivoted

Published Aug 20th, 2022 4:09PM EDT
ooho water

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Startups come in all shapes and sizes. But when your business model seeks to replace one of the most simple, ubiquitous products on the planet — plastic bottles. It has to be unbelievably brilliant to have any chance at success. Enter Ooho edible water, an “edible bottle” created by startup Skipping Rocks Lab, which rebranded into a company called Notpla. It’s a product that was perfectly suited for internet hype. It looked crazy, seemed useful, and it was not particularly difficult to imagine using it yourself. But it never did take off quite as people thought. So Notpla had to pivot and is searching for more ways to eliminate plastic waste.

Read our article on how you can help name a planet.

How Ooho edible water spheres work

Ooho spheres are created by dipping frozen liquid balls into an algae mixture that forms a membrane around the ice. The ice melts into liquid water and membrane, which is edible and biodegradable, forming a watertight seal around it. To consume the liquid, you can either bite into the tasteless membrane. You could also sip it out or eat the entire ball, membrane and all.

But there were a few problems with the company’s approach. Skipping Rocks Lab’s mission to make Ooho a staple of festivals, marathons, and other outdoor events was a great start. Those are situations in which single-serving beverages without waste are well suited. But their wider goal was to become “the global solution to water and drinks on the go.” This was an impossible task.

Unlike bottles, single-gulp water is not something most of us need or would even find a way to use daily. The membrane is pretty delicate, as demonstrated in videos showcasing Ooho being drank. It is not something you’d toss in a bag or backpack on its own. And because the membrane is edible. If Skipping Rocks envisioned Ooho being sold at grocery stores, it would mean selling it within another external packaging. This is because of the delicate, edible membrane. And this completely negates its “packaging-free” mission.

What happened to Ooho

The no-plastic-needed concept turned Ooho edible water into a bit of a viral sensation. But the idea wasn’t as sustainable as the company thought. The spheres have a limited shelf life and begin to shrivel and break after a short time. In July 2019, the company rebranded from Skipping Rocks Lab to Notpla, standing for Not Plastic.

Ooho is still definitely a fantastic idea. There might be a way to utilize this idea in the future. Recently, sauce sachets are coming soon on the company’s website. You can still purchase Ooho edible water spheres. They are still used for cocktails and races.

But with the rebrand, Notpla has focused on sustainable packaging that is a bit sturdier. Notpla started making seaweed-coated food packaging. The packaging is made from seaweed and other plants, making it biodegradable. It is designed for liquids and is biodegradable from four to six weeks.

Notpla containers

ooho edible water rebranded as Nopla
Notpla containers Image source: Notpla

This is made for on-the-go consumption, and it is more sustainable than plastic ones. You can purchase a case of 200 of them, so it is an excellent option for restaurants. The dimension of each box is 90 x 110mm on the base, 106 x 127mm on the top, and 65mm for height. Suitable for wet, cold, hot, or dry food, there is a place for these. They are home compostable as well. The packaging doesn’t contain any PET recycling.

Notpla is a London startup that has raised €6.3 million and looks to move towards getting rid of packaging. Notpla formed a partnership in 2019 with Just Eat and Unilever to create more sustainable food packaging. The containers and Ooho contribute to eliminating acid in our oceans.

They also sell pipettes that are 12 units for €12. They can hold oil, making it easier to drizzle some over your pizza, pasta, or vegetables.


What is Ooho edible water made of?

Ooho water is made of algae or seaweed, and calcium chloride by the Skipping Rocks Lab, now known as Notpla.

What is edible water made of?

An edible water bottle is made of plants and seaweed. The two active ingredients in the package are sodium alginate which is the seaweed, and calcium chloride.

How long does Ooho last?

Ooho edible water bottles degrade within six weeks if they are not consumed. This is safer for the environment than plastic bottles, which take about 450 years to degrade.

What does edible water taste like?

Edible water balls have no natural taste. They taste neutral, just like water.

In what ways is the Ooho water orb better than a plastic bottle?

The Ooho water packaging is made with biodegradable materials that are best for the environment. Made from seaweed, this edible water bottle can replace plastic bottles. They do not endanger the planet, unlike plastic water bottles, and they are bio-degradable.