Noble Plastics in St. Landry parish has teamed up with LSU to create a new biodegradable bead.
They're hoping to reduce the negative effects ordinary plastic beads have on the ecosystem and environment during the Mardi Gras season.
"The idea on the Mardi Gras bead that will decompose in 1-2 years instead of many years for an untreated plastic, is that we wouldn’t need to do these big storm drain clean outs. There’s nothing special a person would have to do with it. It would eventually just melt away," explains Missy Rogers, president of Noble Plastics.
And Rogers says the decomposition process of this plastic bead is safe because the algae powder used in the process of making the bead is an organic product, so it won’t harm wildlife for example.
She also tells us there’s been an ongoing movement across several communities for more sustainable options in the throws at our parades.
"Some people are throwing kitchen tools. Some people are throwing toys for children that have a purpose and a use beyond the moment of the parade.. and I think this is part of the trend of looking for more sustainable options because we all worry about what goes into our storm drains and waterways," says Rogers.
Using 18 years of robotic experience to their advantage, they were able to produce around 500-600 of these biodegradable beads that are being thrown in some of the New Orleans parades this year.
They are using this Mardi Gras season essentially as a trial and error run to see if the concept can take off.
The main issue at this point is pricing.
The cost to produce this particular type of bead is substantially more expensive than ordinary plastic beads.
According to NOLA.com, the price of "algae" beads sits at $5 per necklace.
So what is their hope for the future?
"What we would hope is that this creates more interest from other Krewes and other communities, and so there could be a production run at a higher volume, but we’re nowhere near-we’re years- I hate to tell you, we’re years away from displacing the Chinese manufacture of cheap Mardi Gras beads," explains Rogers.