Waste mussel shells are a sustainable alternative to traditional glassmaking techniques

As people become more and more aware of consumption, waste and other things related to the environment, many designers are always looking for more environmentally friendly materials. We see a lot of experimentation and research on finding waste and other things that can be recycled and recycled into sustainable materials for building other things. Glassware is one of those industries that uses a lot of highly processed and sometimes unsustainable materials. Finding an alternative to all of this is therefore a priority for some.

Creator: Bureau de Change and Lulu Harrison

A group of London-based architects and a design student set out to find such an alternative for use in the glass industry. They discovered that the quagga mussel, a species of freshwater mussel, can actually be used as an ingredient in the creation of glass tiles. By mixing scrap quagga mussel shells with local sand and waste wood ash, they were able to create a “unique glass recipe” that can theoretically be used in building designs in the future.

This new bio-material is called Thames Glass and the initial release using this material is 3D printed molds with decorative designs. The design is inspired by the terracotta chimney pots from Royal Doulton, a ceramic manufacturer. Not only do they plan to use these tiles for building designs, but they also want to use them to design carafes and tumblers. With people now more concerned with bringing their own water instead of buying bottled water, this may become another way to close the loop.

Quagga mussel shells commonly clog water pipes, a problem that has been a thorn in the side of Thames Water, a private company that supplies most of the water in the greater London area. They have spent millions of pounds every year just to remove these shells and sometimes ineffectively. But if you can turn that annoying waste into something useful, you’re not only solving the clogging problem, you’re also creating an eco-friendly solution.