The Yorkshire firm harvesting and selling seaweed to the nation

The pivot to sustainable materials is something that Wave Crookes knows all about.

Alongside his partner Laura Robinson he runs Seagrown, a seaweed harvesting firm based in Scarborough.

Seaweed, which is found in great abundance along Yorkshire’s coastline, has a multitude of applications, from foods and medicines to bioplastics and biochemicals.

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While harvesting it is commonplace in many other countries the industry has never really taken off in the UK, something Mr Crookes is looking to change.

Waves Crookes

“It is enormously versatile,” he says.

“It is sustainable and has so many uses. Absorbing carbon is but one example. Trees do the same but they take a lot of space and a long time to grow.

“Seaweed can absorb huge amounts of carbon and there is a huge amount of it.

“Its use in bioplastics is important too. We have all seen Blue Planet. This is a way of moving away from that.”

Waves Crookes

Another application is one which can particularly aide one sector to which Yorkshire is particularly familiar.

The meat and dairy farming industry is a massive part of Yorkshire’s rural economy but is also a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Many variants of seaweed, if added to a cow’s diet, can mitigate these emissions, giving the sector the opportunity to dramatically cut the damage it does to the planet.

Mr Crookes started his business with the initial intention of harvesting seaweed from the physical coastline but quickly realised that if they were to venture out to sea they could return a far greater crop and therefore scale up to supplying other industries to a far greater degree.

An experienced sailor, the firm is preparing to launch a permanent base off of the coast of Scarborough. The crisis has delayed this launch but Mr Crookes believes that the practice will become more common once people become aware of the benefits.

“Seaweed is incredibly rich in nutrients,” he said.

“In South Asia it is commonly eaten but here it is only really used by people who appear on Masterchef or the Great British Menu.

“That will change.”