Finding value in discarded oyster shells

Finding value in discarded oyster shells

- China

Managing waste limits pollution, creates jobs

Seeing Opportunity

A typical seaside village, Dawu’s economy is largely dependent on oyster harvesting. But with 20 percent of the population participating in oyster shucking and no shell disposal process, scores of land and roads in the village had become overrun with shells and these decaying shells were polluting the very waters that sustained the villagers.

Taking Action

The Xiamen University Enactus team knew the key to saving this community was not simply to clean up, but to find a new use for the shells. Research revealed the mounds of shells could be made into construction materials and fertilizer, which led the team to work with the local government to set up an oyster shell processing facility in Dawu. The Taiyu Oyster Shell Processing Factory was created and markets were identified for the newly created products. To further ensure success, the team provided the villagers education on environmental protection and coached them on the most effective methods of using the new processing facility to clean their hometown and capitalize on these new oyster shell by-products.

Enabling Progress

With the “Trash to Treasure” project, more than 4,000 tons of shucked shells are now being processed each year with a value of 82.8 million Yuan. In addition, the factory has brought 61 jobs to Dawu village. The biggest benefit for villagers is they now have a means to handle their waste, they have added economic opportunity and the quality of the water and the oyster meat is reportedly better now that there is less water pollution.

Project Facts

1 seaside village

11,000 tons of oyster shells

61 new jobs