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'Shellstic' Is The Latest Material Made From Fishing Waste

by Rudy Sanchez on 01/09/2023 | 2 Minute Read

Scallops from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido are considered some of the best in the world. Renowned for their size and taste, scallop production generates 40,000 tons of discarded shells in the area, which can cause soil contamination if left on the ground.

While we still haven’t figured out how to use seashells to replace toilet paper,  TBWA\Hakuhodo and Koushi Chemical Industry have developed a product that makes use of the discarded scallop shells to create a material that's durable enough to protect human heads, reduce waste, and protect the local environment dubbed the “Shellmet.” A portmanteau of “shell” and “helmet,” the Shellmet is designed to be used as a bicycle helmet and hardhat.


The scallop shells are cleaned and processed, then combined with recycled plastic to create a material called “Shellstic,” another portmanteau that combines “shells” and “plastic.” The Shellmet also features scallop-inspired ridges, making them up to 30% stronger than conventional designs, as scallop shells consist primarily of calcium carbonate, providing strength and durability for Shellstic.


“Scallops are the most commonly eaten shellfish by Japanese people - and it is also the shellfish that results in the most amount of waste,” said Masatoshi Usami, creative director at TBWA\Hakuhodo, via press release. “If scallop shells are viewed as a resource rather than waste, they offer new possibilities as a sustainable material. Shellmet is the first of these. Shells that have protected themselves from external enemies can now be used to protect human lives. We hope this project will spread throughout society as a new form of environmental conservation that solves the problem of ocean waste and protects the fishing industry.”


The innovative use of discarded shells to create Shellmets is the first application of Shellstic. Still, it is easy to see other possible material applications, such as durable packaging. Shellstic repurposes scallop industry waste while lowering demand for virgin plastic, ticking several sustainability boxes.

Shellstic is also the latest marine-inspired plastic alternative. Other examples of materials made from the ocean include materials made from lobster shells, fish waste, and seaweed.

Images courtesy of TBWA\Hakuhodo.

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