Let's recycle seafood!

Posted on 17 December 2020.

Waste fish and seafood products can be recovered and used in a variety of ways. A quick walk-through before the festive season begins.

Discover all the super powers of fish in a computer-generated image

"Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed." This Antoine Lavoisier quote also applies to the fishing industry. Processing fish (especially to produce fillets) and other seafood generates by-products - skins, scales, bones, viscera, heads, etc. - which can represent as much as 50% of the weight of the original catch. Eating seafood, too, is highly wasteful because the shells of oysters, mussels and shellfish have some astonishing properties!

Broadly speaking, this waste represents an amazing source of raw materials that can be recovered and used in a variety of ways - including in the following examples.

Fish scraps recycled as fertilizer

In 2017, Veolia and STEF, a company specializing in cold logistics, joined forces to create Recyfish, a solution for converting fishing by-products into fertilizer. Using this solution, the wholesale fishmonger Deloye Marée can recycle up to 10 box pallets full of fish scraps every day.

Fish leather

For centuries fish skin has been used to produce leather for upholstery or leather goods. As the use of industrial materials and rubber spread, the practice was gradually abandoned. Today, it is resurfacing under the impetus of craftspeople and designers from all over the world in search of sustainable and original materials.

Scales and shells make bioplastics

In Bayonne, two cousins invented a fish-scale based biopolymer - Scalite - as an alternative to plastic. Scalite can be used to make all sorts of objects, such as the frames on glasses, which are usually made of not widely recycled and not biodegradable acetate.

The primary component in shellfish shells is chitin. It is the second most abundant biopolymer on Earth after cellulose, and of great interest to industry and designers. Various processes are used to extract the chitosan (obtained from chitin) to make bioplastics.

Shells transformed into daily objects

That leaves oyster and mussel shells. Here again, good circular ideas abound. Decathlon recycles them for use in the Tribord brand's nautical booties; the French designer Lucile Viaud transforms them into Glaz marine glass and has designed her a first tableware collection; and the startup EtNISI turns them into tiles and furniture. And beyond fish, exciting initiatives will continue to emerge from the marine world as a whole – for example as these biodegradable bottles and consumables made from seaweed.

🡪 To know more, check infographic