A young designer recycles oyster shells to make glass

Posted on 11 June 2019.

Shells, fish bones... Rather than throw this organic waste away, Lucile Viaud decided to make use of it. And created a new material: Glaz marine glass.

"I defend the idea that there is no such thing as waste – it can be a good raw material with which to create new materials."

Recovering food waste, especially fruit and vegetables, is a hot topic. Less well known is the not-negligible use of waste products from the fishing industry. In fact large quantities of this type of waste are generated annually.
In 2017, of the 171 million metric tons of seafood caught worldwide, half was sold directly to consumers. The other half was processed – gutted, headed, fileted stripped, shelled or skinned - before it was sold.
Leaving behind it over 230,000 metric tons of waste from the fishing industry annually worldwide. Waste that is rarely recovered, according to France’s agricultural and seafood organization (FranceAgriMer) - in particular seafood by-products such as oyster, mussel and clam shells.
French designer Lucile Viaud decided to focus on oyster shells. She found a way of turning them into glass. "I defend the idea that there is no such thing as waste – it can be a good raw material with which to create new materials," she explains in the thesis she wrote at École Boulle which was entitled Le Monde du Silence.

Marine tableware

It all started in 2014. Part of her design and crafts degree course required Lucile Viaud to look at the processes used to recycle fishing by-products. In partnership with IDMER, a center for the recovery of marine waste in Lorient, Brittany, she developed two materials from sea shells - sea plaster and opal marine glass used to make bowls.
Taking the next step, Lucile Viaud decided to launch her own brand, "Ostraco". And then designed her first collection of marine glassware named Glaz (from the old Breton word "glas", meaning blue-green). Several fishermen in Brittany work with Lucile Viaud and are responsible for collecting, sorting, cleaning and making the oyster shells into a powder.
The powder is then used in Arcueil in the Paris region, at the Atelier Silicybine, which specializes in hot glass processes. The glass is blown to make all kinds of tableware. Bowls, plates, glasses and trays are given marine-inspired colors.
Only unveiled to the public in March 2017, in December 2018 the very first collection of Glaz marine glass received the Sustainable Development Star award from the Agence pour la Promotion de la Création Industrielle (APCI), in partnership with ADEME. "By developing this project, I want to show that designers have a role to play in preserving resources, enhancing our heritage and local know-how," explains Lucile Viaud in her thesis.
The next step for the young woman is to export her approach to other French regions (whether or not on the coast), in order to encourage the recovery of local resources.