An exploration in waste materiality

Creating new materials and products from wasted by-products of Montreal’s fishing industry to replace less ecological leathers and plastics.

Canada's fishing industry has seen a rise in waste due to increased farming without proper management. There is an urgent need to reform this industry to curb environmental impact and species depletion, alongside the innovation of designers to repurpose discarded materials. In this exploration, fish skins were analyzed for texture, strength, and flexibility, following research into sustainable Indigenous methods of leather tanning. 

/ striped bas

(Morone saxatilis), native to North America’s atlantic coast, migrates from freshwater to saltwater. 

/ atlantic salmon
(Salmo salar), native to both the northern Atlantic Ocean as well as rivers that flow into this ocean. 

/ coho salmon

(Oncorhynchus kisutch), one of the five pacific salmon species. They alternate between freshwater and marine environments. 

/ atlantic mackerel

(Scomber scombrus), found on both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean and in the Baltic Sea, often found in the pelagic zone. 

Durable striped bass leather wallet
/ scales
Scales are unique in their double-layer structure, providing high resistance and protection against penetration.
At 0.2-0.3mm thick, these scales resist about 3 Newtons of force, surpassing many synthetic polymers. Intrigued by their structure—rigid top layer shielding a softer collagen layer—I explored whether their strength is maintained when broken down, potentially serving as a strengthening agent for bioplastics.

Scale bioplastic


01. Kristinsson, H.G. & Rasco, B.A. (2000). Fish protein hydrolysates:
production, biochemical, and functional properties. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 40, 43–81.

02. N. Bandara, M. Chalamaiah. Bioactives From Agricultural Processing By-products. Editor(s): Laurence Melton, Fereidoon Shahidi, Peter Varelis. Encyclopedia of Food Chemistry. Academic Press, 2019.
03. Zhu D; Ortega CF; Motamedi R; Szewciw L; Vernerey F; Barthelat F, Vernerey FJ; Barthelat F, AskNature Team, and John Howard. "Scales Provide Penetrative Protection : Striped Bass." AskNature. April 01, 2012. Accessed January 23, 2021.