Eggshells are normally somewhat of an annoyance if found on your plate, but what if they formed the plate itself, or even the cutlery?
The idea is not quite as strange as it may sound.
Martina Zupan, a fourth-year product design student at the U.K.’s Edinburgh Napier University, has come up with a way of making eggshells into a range of disposable tableware which she calls her “Colleggtion.”
She says the idea came to her while making scrambled eggs one day and set to work with research teams at Edinburgh Napier. The young designer has developed a patent pending process that allows waste eggshells to be formed into potentially valuable products.
There is certainly plenty of raw material to be had. Estimates suggest that the U.K. alone produces more than 75,000 tons of eggshell waste each year. At least 17,000 tons of waste eggshell was disposed of in landfill last year and, leaving sustainability to one side, this represents a cost to egg processors or anyone else having to dispose of eggshell waste in this way.
While some eggshells are already recycled, the student believes there is room for improvement. She says sustainability was a key consideration throughout the whole Colleggtion project, and care was taken to ensure that nothing went to waste throughout the entire process, even experimenting with other food waste to dye the tableware.
Not only does the tableware turn an otherwise waste product into a valuable ingredient but, once used, it is fully compostable.
No pie in the sky
This is not the first project that has looked at how to make use of eggshells, and everything from building materials and plastics to pharmaceutical ingredients has been studied.
And if you think such ideas are pie in the sky, you might want to consider that you may already have been buying food waste and may actually be wearing it.
Taiwanese company Singtex takes spent coffee grounds, mixes them with used plastic bottles, and produces fibers and yarns with sweat-absorbent properties.
Singtex is not a tiny niche business. Since being set up by Jason Chen in 1989, the company has grown to employ almost 800 people.
According to the BBC, part of Chen’s preferred breakfast is an egg sandwich, although they have not reported on his choice of crockery. Perhaps Chen and Zupan should talk?