In most parts of Australia, there’s a high chance that the shells from a bowl of mussels or a plate of oysters will end up in landfill, ABC News reports.
But for the last two years, restaurants and seafood wholesalers in Geelong, south-west of Melbourne, have been donating their shells to a local shell recycling program.
The donated mussel, oyster and scallop shells are then used to form a reef foundation, in the hope of restoring the once abundant shellfish reefs of Port Phillip Bay.
Simon Branigan from the Nature Conservancy, who is coordinating the recycling initiative, said so far the project has salvaged 300 cubic metres of shells from landfill.
“In this case they have a really important use in helping to restore the lost shellfish reefs of Port Phillip Bay.”
When native mussels and oysters spawn, the larvae need a reef base to grow on.
But these reefs have largely been lost in Port Phillip Bay, Mr Branigan explained.
Mr Branigan said the Geelong Disabled Peoples Industry (GDP) provided the crucial transport link, from restaurants to the curing site.
“Without GDP the project would have never got off the ground,” he said.
“It changes it up for the guys, gives them something different to do, gets them out into the public, which is something they all in enjoy doing,” Mr Cummins said.
Shellfish waste from restaurants around Australia usually ends up in landfill. (ABC RN: Fiona Pepper)