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sturdy helmet 'SHELLMET' recycles discarded scallop shells from landfills

protecting heads with scallop shells


A mountain of discarded scallop shells has covered a landfill in Sarufutsu Village, Japan. Japanese start-up Quantum took note of this and tapped Sarufutsu Village and agency TBWA HAKUHODO to suggest a way to reduce the tantamount discarded husks in the area: recycling the scallop shells and turning them into a lightweight and sturdy helmet that workers and employees can use every day. The trio went forward with the idea until they came up with SHELLMET, a head protector made from eco-friendly plastic fused with recycled scallop shells.


The suburb is known to generate about 40,000 tons of shell annually, derived from marine waste when processing scallops for the food industry. In 2021, exporting the shells to other countries for the purpose of reusing them ceased. The aftermath led to scallop shells piling up in the village, becoming a giant trash bin.

hotamet scallop helmet
images courtesy of Quantum



lighter and more robust scallop helmet


developed by TBWA HAKUHODO, Koushi Chemical Industry, and quantum, SHELLMET turns to biomimicry for its design. It follows the ribs and slopes of the scallop shells to remind the wearer that what they have on their head is made from recycled scallop shells. The structure trails behind the details of a scallop husk, inflated to cater to one’s head. Since using the shells as the only material for the helmet might not be ideal, Quantum and the team has added eco-friendly plastic into the mix to create the sturdy and lightweight properties it has.


The scallop helmet only weighs about 400 grams, and the team believes that by adopting a rib structure peculiar to seashells, the scallop helmet’s durability is increased by about 30% compared to the normal shape. The work gear is designed to be worn in various situations such as disaster prevention, bicycle commuting, and work sites.


hotamet scallop helmet
discarded scallop shells



Ideal for disasters and rescue operations


Being inspired to reduce marine waste has come to the fruition of creating helmets by recycling discarded scallop shells. There is a risk of disasters that can occur in Japan such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and snow damage due to climate change, and the entrance of the scallop helmets comes in handy. As Quantum chief designer Shintaro Kadota’s comment, SHELLMET’s shell-like form is designed not only to look appealing but also to be functional.


‘From the development of materials to the design, we aimed to create products that are environmentally friendly and sustainable. The lightweight and robust helmet has a simple design, so you can use it for a long time in a variety of situations, from everyday use to work sites,’ he says. The team eyes the end of March 2023 as the release date for the scallop helmets, currently priced at 4,800 yen (around 35 USD).

hotamet scallop helmet
SHELLMET scallop helmet

hotamet scallop helmet
details of the design

hotamet scallop helmet
close-up view

hotamet scallop helmet
SHELLMET scallop helmet is ideal for everyday use


SHELLMET scallop helmet





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