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2017 Winner - Community

The Nature Conservancy Australia

Shuck Don't Chuck Recycling Program

Years of commercial dredging, pollution and overfishing have decimated the reef habitat of hundreds of marine species, but one of their own is helping to restore it.

The Nature Conservancy Australia is rebuilding reefs with leftover oyster shells collected from local seafood restaurants. These businesses are used to recycling glass and cardboard, now they can recycle the catch of the day using innovative containers.

The Shuck Don’t Chuck program was pioneered in the US and, in Australia, The Nature Conservancy is importing this international know-how and tailoring it to local conditions through work with scientists, aquaculture farmers, seafood outlets and wholesalers.

Shells are quarantined and cured for six months then reused as new oyster and mussel reef habitat diverting that waste from landfill in the short term and creating a healthier bay by improving water quality and habitat.

This unorthodox approach will revitalise reefs from Melbourne to Perth.

The result is less waste, rejuvenated habitat for native species and a financial boon for a once-declining marine industry.

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