Creating a Sustainable Material from Seashell Waste

Verra Febrianti Musriana (ID)

Worldwide, about seven million tonnes of waste are generated through the use of seashells. They either end up in landfills or are piling up on the beach, causing odour pollution and polluting the surrounding land in the long run. Verra Febrianti Musriana and Olivia Aspinall proposed the use of discarded seashells to create environmentally and economically sustainable material rather than contributing to the world’s rubbish problem.

Verra and Olivia brainstormed the original idea together. Unfortunately, Olivia could not continue due to unforeseen circumstances, and Verra proceeded with both material and design exploration until the end.

The Problem

Shells are a valuable material that can improve the sustainability of the aquaculture industry and provide secondary economic benefits. However, an enormous amount of seashell waste is dumped in landfills or the sea every year. This waste piles up in coastal areas and can cause many environmental problems if not handled properly.

Millions of tonnes of seashells are discarded every year. The majority of this waste ends up in landfills or is dumped on beaches.

Seashell dust ingredients; glycerin 24 grams, gelatin 48 grams, and water 400 grams.

The Solution

Seashells contain 90% calcium carbonate. Through a calcination treatment at a temperature of 850°C, they can be decomposed and turned into a quicklime-cement like material. Verra Febrianti Musriana and Olivia Aspinall were inspired to create an eco-friendly terrazzo-like material from waste shells.

Named Seazzle, the alternative material is made by grinding down shells destined for landfills before combining them with natural, non-toxic binders. Verra used ingredients such as gelatine and glycerine, and cured the samples for seven days. It resulted in variations in the shell fragments’ sizes, textures, and colours.

The terrazzo-like material coming together.

Seashell offcuts after being cooked.

The 3D sketches on the ideation process.

The 3D sketches on the ideation process.

The Outcome

The raw materials (seashell dust) are provided in bottles with binding materials (glycerin, gelatine, and water). The children can pour these materials into a puzzle box and mix them with any coloring they want. They would then leave the puzzle box to dry before it comes out as different terrazzo stone patterns that they can use to their liking, for example, building blocks.

When the children don’t use their blocks anymore, the terrazzo can be repurposed into a decorative piece or a furniture block.

Seazzle is versatile and a lightweight alternative to not only concrete but also plastic. It can be used to produce several objects while repurposing waste, reducing carbon emissions of the toxic counterpart materials, and keeping the costs low.

The terrazzo-like material can take the form of a puzzle box or a building block.

Verra Febrianti Musriana (ID)
Product Designer

All photos are courtesy of Altermatter Participants.

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