The Shellmet : Discarded Scallop Shells Get New Life as Eco-Friendly Helmets

Shellmet Hotamet

A collaborative effort between a Japanese Ad Agency and a Japanese Chemical Company has brought us the Shellmet upcycled bike helmet for men, women and children. The product is the first to use an innovative material made from discarded scallop shells from the area’s seafood industry mixed with recycled plastic.

Shellmet Eco-Friendly Helmet

recycled material helmets in colors

Scallops are the most commonly eaten shellfish in Japan. Shells discarded by the Seafood Industry pile up, as much as 40,000 tons of them annually, on the shores of Sarufutsu Village on Japan’s Hokkaido island. One of the area’s concerns is the fear that the shells, whose main component is calcium carbonate, may cause soil contamination if left there on the ground.

female in blue shellmet

Creative firm TBWA/Hakuhodo and the Koushi Chemical Industry Co. teamed up to create an innovative solution to the problem: The Shellmet (or Hotamet, as it’s called in Japan).

scalloped helmet

Japanese fishermen
Currently, about 270 fishermen are engaged in fishing in Sarufutsu Village and wear plastic helmets on a daily basis.

Cleaned, pulverized, and mixed with recycled plastic, the shells are transformed into an environmentally-friendly material called Shellstic. By mixing scallop shells into plastic, the strength (flexural modulus) is improved by about 33%.

pulverized scallop shells mixed with recycled plastic

Using this bioplastic as a raw material, CO2 emissions are reduced by about 50%. It’s this innovative substance which is used to make the Shellmet, Japan’s first eco-friendly cycling or protective helmet.

Japanese helmet of recycled materials

Shintaro Monden of Hakuhodo is the chief designer behind the Shellmet which is surprisingly attractive. Looking like a combination Bike Helmet and Hardhat the protective headgear is ribbed like the scallop shells from which it’s made. The ribbing increases the helmet’s strength by 30% when compared to a smooth design.

rib detailing on helmet

The Shellmet is available in five Ocean-inspired colors; Coral White, Sand Cream, Ocean Blue, Deep Black, and Sunset Pink.

people wearing eco-friendly bike helmets

shellmet colors

In addition to supplying the local fishermen with the new helmets, the producers plan to promote the Shellmet for use in emergencies such as earthquakes and abnormal weather, and will seek certification for the design as safety equipment. Sales to the general public will start in March 2023 at JPY4,800 (US$37).

Pre-order sales of “HOTAMET” are already available here on Japan’s crowdfunding support purchase site Makuake.

Learn more here

Images and information courtesy of Koushi Chemical Industry Co. and Re-How