A materials researcher has found a way to reuse waste products from the fishing industry by converting fish scales into a new biodegradable material suitable to make marble and mosaic effect tiles.
With each tile being 99.5 per cent comprised of fish scales, Scalite is made from the waste product from France’s sardine and salmon fishing industry.
Once the sardines are prepared to be shipped and sold, there remains a substantial amount of fish waste, which is claimed to be two-thirds of the fish caught in the sea.
Some of this is used in fish oil and fertilisers, but until the development of Scalite, a large amount of the waste from the fishing industry ends up in a landfill.
The tiles take advantage of the material composition of fish scales, which are made of a combination of minerals and collagen biopolymer fibres, which are extracted and mixed together to create the base tile material, which is then mixed with a natural binder and dye.
Once pressed into moulds it resembles a speckled Corian-style material in both rectangular and square tiles, to be grouted and fitted like any other tile.
The difference is that once the tiles need removing and replacing, they can be easily recycled afterwards.
Currently, the primary disadvantage of the new material is waterproofing, although the researchers behind Scalite have recently hired a biochemist to try and find an eco-friendly way of making them waterproof, as the more waterproof a material is the less biodegradable it is.
At present, the tiles swell when exposed to moisture but they hope to fix it soon, making it more suitable for bathroom use. As well as this, the business selling Scalite is working on a more systemic approach to removing scales from fish ready to be reused.