Aquaculture has grown substantially in several EU countries over recent years. This industry generates a large amount of seafood waste every year, and most of it is dumped on the sea coast or in landfills. In the EU alone, more than 250,000 tonnes of seafood waste is discarded every year.
The waste is a major environmental concern worldwide and a serious threat to the coastline. Accumulation of fish and shell waste changes the natural sea balance impacting marine biodiversity.
But the use of seafood waste as a new raw material creates both ecological and economic benefits.
The shells are an abundant source of three primary chemicals that have many uses: calcium carbonate, chitin and protein.
Chitin is the most abundant biopolymer in the world, right along with cellulose.
Calcium carbonate and protein are the other valuable components that can serve as a better animal feed supplement.
The designer Daria Biryukova (founder of the Studio Mixtura), realizing the potential of this discarded material, looked for local waste streams and researched its applications in the ceramic industry.
Although calcium carbonate material is cheap and commonly used in ceramic, it still needs to be extracted.
Commonly mined, well-known deposits are found in the limestone cliffs of England, France and Belgium. Marble and calcite ores are abundant everywhere.
But the mining generates a lot of environmental problems, and that led the designer to question it. Why dig up and extract the primary raw materials at remote locations if you can use a source which is available locally and at the same time tackle pollution?
Committed to doing this research locally, the designer went to Portugal to do a residency at Vista Alegre Atlantis.
By experimenting and implementing crushed shells into glaze recipes, she achieved five colours which naturally remind the shells colours and textures.
The process of experimentation started by first powdering the shells and then sieved out the big particles. After that, Daria Biryukova created several recipes based on the chemistry of calcium carbonate and its properties in ceramic glazes.
At first, she developed a primary glaze colour, that is white opaque and silky matte. After that, she added the oxides of metals to reach different colour expressions. These oxides react differently with the carbonate, and the resulting colours are soft.
The project aims to inspire artists to work with local materials and to research the origin of materials they use in artistic practise or design.
Vista Alegre Atlantis