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.
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 and impacts marine biodiversity.
However, 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 better animal feed supplements.
The designer Daria Biryukova (founder of the Studio Mixtura), realised the potential of this discarded material and looked for local waste streams, researching its applications in the ceramic industry. Although calcium carbonate material is cheap and commonly used in ceramics, 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. The mining industry generates a lot of environmental problems, leading 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 shell's colours and textures. The process of experimentation started by first powdering the shells and then sieving 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 subtle.
The project aims to inspire artists to work with local materials and to research the origin of materials they use in artistic practice or design.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Crushed seashells, stoneware
Vista Alegre Atlantis