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Taiwan's oyster shells turned into products as part of circular economy

From fertilizer to 3D printing materials, discarded oyster shells given new value

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Recycled oyster shells. (Taisugar photo)

Recycled oyster shells. (Taisugar photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The state-run Taiwan Sugar Corporation, or Taisugar, has made strides to upcycle oyster shells, as the country works to promote a circular economy and move towards a net-zero future.

A biotech plant owned by the company in Tainan has since June 2021 churned out 40,000 tons of calcium carbonate power annually from around 50,000 tons of discarded oyster shells. The waste is sourced from the country’s oyster industry, centered along the west coast.

Following a series of treatments involving calcination and processing, the waste turns into value-added materials that can be used for agricultural, industrial, and medical purposes.

Applications developed include fertilizer, animal feed, anti-bacteria plastics, 3D printing materials, soap, and cat litter. Other potential applications such as coating materials, thermal insulation materials, biodegradable plastic, and filter material are being experimented with, according to Taisugar.

Taiwan relies on rock imports or quarrying to extract calcium carbonate, or CaCO3. Transforming thrown-away shells into the compound not only helps meet the demand, but is also conducive to cutting waste and boosting revenue for oyster farmers, said the company.

Taiwan's oyster shells turned into products as part of circular economy

Taiwan's oyster shells turned into products as part of circular economy
Recycled oyster shells made into various products. (Taisugar photos)

Taiwan's oyster shells turned into products as part of circular economy
Ground oyster shells in Taisugar's biotech plant. (Taisugar photo)