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New tiles made from fish scales

Global Goals & Global Society
New tiles made from fish scales

A design company creates new tiles that resemble ceramic or marble in appearance but are really composed entirely of fish scales and are fully recyclable.

Landfills frequently become home to fish debris such bones, heads, fins, and scales. A design firm has developed fish scale-based tiles in an effort to change this. The substance is naturally non-flammable, biobased, and degradable.

Fish scale-based tiles

Did you realize that almost two thirds of fish that are caught are wasted? Fish waste, including bones, heads, fins, and scales, is occasionally used as fish oil and fertilizer, but the majority of it ends up in landfills.

Materials researcher Erik de Laurens discovered a way to recycle some of this trash and produce an entirely new material. He refers to it as Scalite.

Scalite, a bio-based, biodegradable, and naturally non-flammable substance made nearly entirely from fish scales (99.5%), transforms a waste product of the fishing industry into a striking stone-like substance. Buildings can get a tiny bit greener, one tile at a time, with the help of this substance.

In 2011, while pursuing a master's degree in product design at the Royal College of Art in London, De Laurens created his first prototype. The following six years of his career were spent as a materials researcher at the architecture firm Foster + Partners, where he encountered the "architecturally problematic" and polluting reality of the building sector.

After two years of development, he returned to his native France in 2018, teamed up with businessman and his cousin Edouard de Dreuzy, and together they founded Scale as "an ocean-friendly company." Their initial offering was Scalite.

It looks like marble, but it's fish scales.

For now, Laurens says the biggest challenge in France is acquiring the scales efficiently. "In Europe, we don't have the mentality to recycle," he says, noting that the recycling industry has just started investing in special equipment to separate each fish by-product: fish scales from the skin, skins from the head, heads from the bones.

For the time being, Scalite is made from fish scales harvested in France from sustainably managed sardine or salmon stocks. However, due to the complications of recycling, Laurens is looking for other markets with "more exotic scales" such as Asian carp and sea bass, although the type of fish does not affect the color or final texture of the product.

Mankind produces far too much waste. This ends up scattered all over the world. Not only on land but especially in the sea. Ecosystems are destroyed, animal species become extinct. There is a need for sustainable innovations and ideas to recycle and possibly repurpose existing old things and give them a new lease of life. Thus, not only solutions for global problems are found, but several Sustainable Development Goals are worked on at the same time.


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