Shell Recycling - Big Gains From Small Things
Author: Elise Catterall
Australia’s coastline has seen extensive losses in its shellfish reefs, which has many environmental impacts including fewer shellfish. But now your dinner plate leftovers may be coming to the rescue.
Two great recycling initiatives are shaping up to transform reefs along Australia’s east coast and to support marine life and reduce landfill at the same time - and they both involve the recycling of shells.
The initiatives draw on the understanding that mature shells – from oysters, scallops, and mussels – provide the ideal environment to grow young shellfish and that returning used shells to the water helps restore damaged and depleted reef environments. It also helps with erosion control and siltation.
The first initiative, coordinated by The Nature Conservancy Australia, is focussed on the Victorian coastline near Port Phillip Bay. By collecting shells donated by restaurants and seafood wholesalers in Geelong, Nature Conservancy is working to restore the once abundant shellfish reefs of the area and to resurrect shellfish populations. These depleted reefs and their shellfish populations are a result of historic dredge fishing in the area. After collecting and cleaning the shells, they weather them for around six months, exposing them to wind and sun. They then put them in bulk bags that are placed on the shoreline to produce a new reef, on which young shellfish grow. So far, with the support of Little Creatures Brewery, Mantzaris Fisheries, Wah Wah Gee, and the Geelong Disabled People’s Industries, the initiative has collected 300 cubic meters of discarded shells that would otherwise have gone to landfill.
The second initiative, coordinated by OceanWatch Australia, is also targeting depleted shellfish populations and damaged shorelines, but this time at five river sites around Sydney. In NSW 99% of wild oyster populations are functionally extinct because of pollution, sedimentation, disease, and habitat loss or degradation from coastal development. The program also relies on donations – namely from Sydney’s Star Casino and from oyster farmers in Port Stephens on the NSW mid-north coast. It uses biodegradable coconut fibre bags filled with old oyster shells to line the shore.
Aquaculture program manager of OceanWatch Australia, Andy Myers, explains: “….the high lime content of oyster shells makes them really attractive to baby oysters. When oyster larvae settle on other oysters, when they grow they secrete a natural cement and bind the structures together. When the bag breaks down the structural complexity will still be there for a multitude of marine organisms.”
Approximately eight tonnes of shells are being recycled for this purpose.
A similar program to restore the natural shellfish cycle has been in place in the US for several years now, under the management of the Shell Recycling Alliance (SRA), and now has over 300 restaurants participating in the scheme. The Nature Conservancy Australia’s US counterpart also uses similar techniques.
- Follow OceanWatch Australia guidelines for protecting marine environments.
- Watch The Nature Conservancy Australia’s video about the project.
- Watch OceanWatch Australia’s Living Shorelines Program video.
- Support the efforts of The Nature Conservancy Australia and OceanWatch Australia.
- The Nature Conservancy Australia
- OceanWatch Australia
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation
- Oyster Recovery
- The Age
Subscribe to Positive Environment News.
Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.
- Paperbark review: a sleepy wombat and a powerful story »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - New life for old things »
- Packaging industry moves towards better plastic recycling outcomes »
- Mexico City is turning its beltways into vertical gardens »
- A sustainable future for fashion »
- Trading trash for a hot cuppa »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - Small changes with big impact »
- Secret Mozambique rainforest piques scientific interest »
- War on Waste is back! »
- How Cartridges 4 Planet Ark is part of the solution to plastic pollution »
- The great story behind Lousy Ink »
- Kenyan business Ocean Sole is flipping the flop from waste to art »
- Scientists discover enzyme that breaks down plastic »
- Reusable sponge that soaks up oil spills »
- Super coral to resist ocean warming »
- Nestlé to go fully reusable and recyclable by 2025 »
- Woolworths, Coles remove plastic bags from stores ahead of schedule »
- The 'queen of green steel' launches landmark e-waste microfactory »
- True colours - how simple bin changes cut waste at ANZ Stadium »
- Dutch scientists developing smart app to measure water pollution »
- The Swedish fitness craze that's good for you and the environment »
- Victorian Government pitches in for councils facing recycling shutdowns »
- Guilt free tea-bags, frozen food and paper drinking straws »
- Planet Ark's flagship recycling info service is getting a makeover »
- Woolcool turns waste wool into insulation wonder »
- An innovative solution to the problem of ocean pollution »
- New South Wales Return and Earn Container Deposit Scheme hits 64 million returns »
- Cleaning up the Cove »
- Vanuatu bans plastic bags and polystyrene containers »
- A global commitment to clean oceans »
- Marine plastic pollution: a personal perspective »
- Plastics inspiration: reasons for hope »
- Planet Ark announced as Donation Partner for NSW Container Deposit Scheme »
- Doing well by doing good: a recipe for sustain-ability »
- Beyond plastic pollution: solutions for a small planet »
- Revolutionary eco-friendly furniture the way of the future »
- Victoria announces plastic bag ban »
- HIH GreenSmart Awards celebrate Australia's most sustainable homes »
- Sunshine Coast sisters launch Australian-first sustainability project »
- Brush-tailed phascogale makes a surprise appearance on revegetated islands »
- What do Smiths, Kathmandu and Jurlique have in common? »
- Hobart City Council going further to phase out plastic »
- Australia is one step closer to being plastic bag free »
- World's largest crop of tequila plant set to fuel green energy in far north Queensland »
- ABC's War on Waste creates unprecedented demand for sustainable coffee cups »
- 81-Year-Old Lebanese woman inspires a nation to recycle »
- Painting a Brighter Environmental Future »
- Answering the Call to Connect With Nature »
- Planet Ark pays tribute to former Head of Campaigns, Brad Gray »
- Scientist Discover Massive New Forests »
- Wriggly Solution To Plastic Pollution: The Caterpillar That Eats Plastic »
- 'Creature Compost' - Zoo Reduces Landfill and Generates Income »
- The Awful Truth About Nappies & Recycling »
- Seabin »
- This South Australian School Has Plans to Eliminate Campus Waste Bins in Seven Years »
- Australia's Biggest E-Waste Processing Plant to Open »
- Indigenous Communities Embrace Renewable Energy »
- Is the Supermarket of the Future Plastic Free? »
- These Googly-Eyed Garbage Gobblers Are Cleaning Our Waterways »
- New Technology Turns Beach Plastic into Treasure »
- Tokyo Set to Take Sydney's Green Olympic Medal »
- Manchester's Tree Change: From an Industrial to a Green Revolution »
- Sticky Fruit Labels Get The Laser Treatment »
- Unilever Commits to 100% Recyclable Plastic packaging »
- World's Biggest Beach Clean-up »
- Australian Solar Technology Used to Help China Reach Clean Energy Target »
- Launch of Positive Environment News »