Koushi Chemical Industry and Sarufutsu Village have made the debut of SHELLMET, an environmentally friendly helmet made by reusing scallop shells, a form of marine waste.
Koushi will utilize the ecoplastic manufacturing techniques and work together with Sarufutsu Village to reduce the amount of plastic used and to further promote sustainable efforts by treating scallop shells as a valuable resource that serves as an alternative to plastic.
Among Japan’s domestic marine products, scallops have the largest export value. Sarufutsu Village is one of the leading producing areas of scallops in Japan, having repeatedly won the top prize for scallop catch in the country. But it also generates approximately 40,000 tons of shells as marine waste annually during the scallop processing.
The environmental impact of storing scallops on the ground and securing a place to deposit them have become social issues for the local community. In order to solve the problem of the village’s surplus scallop shells, Koushi focused on the fact that the main ingredient of scallop shells is calcium carbonate, and came up with the idea that they could be reused as a raw material for a completely new material.
The original role of a shell is to protect itself from outside enemies, and since scallop fishing is a dangerous activity, the SHELLMET was born from the idea of making a helmet out of scallop shells to protect scallop fishermen, but also for villagers as disaster prevention helmets.
SHELLMET is developed based on the concept of “biomimicry”, which is the application of the mechanisms of the natural world to technological development. SHELLMET incorporates a special rib structure in its design that mimics the structure of scallop shells, which is part of the material used for helmet production. As a result, the durability of SHELLMET is improved by about 30% compared to the case without the rib structure, even though less material is used.
SHELLMET has been developed using scallop shells and recycled plastic with a high ratio of shells mixed in and is expected to contribute to the circulation of resources and reduced CO2 emission. In addition, because it can be used casually by consumers, it could also represent a meaningful endeavor in the sense of raising environmental awareness among people.