Extreme E is a different kind of automotive racing series, and not just because all of its off-road vehicles are powered by electricity. Series organizers also are using the attention drawn by those vehicles and their drivers to promote the protection of fragile environments around the world.
The second event in the series’ inaugural year is the Ocean X Prix held the final weekend of May at Lac Rose, Dakar, in Senegal on Africa’s western coast. Being showcased was the threat that discarded plastic presents to the world’s oceans and waterways.
As part of the effort, a steel-framed box was unveiled to showcase LyfeCycle, a proposed solution for tackling the global plastic pollution pandemic from a British organization, Polymateria.
“An estimated 32 per cent of all plastic packaging used globally does not get recycled or disposed of properly and winds up in nature and a staggering 80 per cent of plastic found in the ocean comes from this unmanaged waste on land,” Extreme E organizers said in a news release. “Traditional plastics last thousands of years in the environment without degrading.
“Polymateria has created LyfeCycle, the world’s first plastic that quickly and safely degrades in the natural environment leaving no toxins and microplastics behind. While the technology allows recycling to happen, it was specifically designed to target the types of plastics that are most likely to end up in nature.”
During the Ocean X Prix weekend, Extreme E used LyfeCycle cups, flexible films and cutlery to showcase how the products return to nature in real-time through a LivingLab experiment as part of its legacy program.
“Extreme E Founder Alejandro Agag came up with the concept of a LivingLab after learning about Polymateria’s LyfeCycle technology. The LivingLab was built by Pinewood Studios outside London in order to meet the complex technical requirements of needing to fully facilitate the natural environment but protect the scientific integrity of the experiment as the plastic materials fully and safely biodegrade and capture all of this visually,” the news release reports.
The LivingLab is a glass box, 70 3/4 inches tall and 47 1/4 inches wide and deep covered with perforated steel and a mesh to keep out insects.
“The top part of the LivingLab allows for light, air and moisture to pass freely but ensures insects are kept out. The base is made porous so water, microbes and small creatures such as earthworms can pass through,” we’re informed.
“During the Ocean X Prix, the LivingLab will be filled with soil from the racing course and used LyfeCycle products. Over the coming months the experiment will be closely studied by a group of independent scientists who will report their findings on the effectiveness of LyfeCycle technology.”
“When I learned about all the scientific rigor behind LyfeCycle I wanted to find a way to make it accessible to people so the world can start to understand and believe in the solutions,” said Agag, who also is the founder of the Formula E electric-powered open-wheel racing series on traditional paved racing circuits.
“Plastic pollution is a major global problem and with 12 million tons of plastic being poured into our ocean every year, this innovation from Polymateria offers a true solution to this issue.”
The Regional Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety Research Center of Dakar in Sénégal will manage the LivingLab after the Ocean X Prix and provide independent testing and validation of the biodegradation of the materials along with streaming the experiment on LyfeCycle.com.