From ‘Port to Plate’ and Back Again: CHEP Supports Port Phillip Bay Shellfish Reef Restoration

CHEP Australia’s supply chain solutions, specifically its Corporate Social Responsibility solutions and knowledge of circular economies, has played a key role in a unique collaboration between business, government, and a social enterprise and environmental group; The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

The group has come together to recycle oyster, mussel and scallop shells from wholesalers and restaurants within the Geelong region, with the aim of using these to restore the degraded reefs in Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay.

The project’s goal is to restore the reef structures of Corio Bay, located in Port Phillip Bay that were destroyed from dredge fishing during the 1800s and 1900s. These reefs are an important part of the marine ecosystem as they accommodate oysters and mussels, which perform important roles in the food chain, acting as nature’s water filters. They also provide social and economic benefits, such as preventing algal blooms by filtering runoff water and providing fish with habitats.

In support of this collaborative project, CHEP has provided reusable containers at the end of their useful economic life, along with sharing best practices in logistics and financial assistance to help reconnect the economy back to the natural ecology.

Marine Manager of The Nature Conservancy, Dr Chris Gillies, said: “CHEP’s support and technical knowledge on supply chain logistics has helped make the project a reality, allowing local restaurants and businesses in the Geelong region to not only reduce their waste but to also assist The Nature Conservancy in recovering Victoria’s most imperiled marine habitat”.

CHEP Australia’s Senior Manager, Sustainability, Lachlan Feggans, said he was proud of CHEP’s support for this community project.

“As part of our new Corporate Social Responsibility solutions, we’re committed to working with businesses and the community to reduce the human, environmental, operational and financial impact of food waste and unsustainable practices.

It has been fantastic to see the Port Phillip Bay marine ecosystem starting to return to a productive and prosperous area for the food chain”.

CHEP’s containers facilitate the collection of discarded shellfish shells from food outlets and redirect them to a holding area provided by the City of Greater Geelong. This process is performed by the team at Geelong Disabled Peoples Industries (GDPI). The shells are then cured over six months before being aggregated with limestone to form a ‘reef matrix’. The matrix is then submerged into a ‘hatchery’ along with oyster spawn and then nature takes its course.
The juvenile oysters seek out the hard surfaces provided by the recycled shells and upon reaching a level of maturity they are released into the bay to gradually recreate the shellfish reefs.

To date 300 meters cubed of shells have been collected from participating food retailers, bypassing Geelong’s landfills to the Shellfish Restoration project. The oyster hatchery has achieved a great success rate in terms of the development of juvenile oysters.  This generation of shells means that when deployed back into the bay in October 2017 it will supercharge the marine ecosystem. This means cleaner water, more fish and of course more delicious shellfish.

Source: CHEP Australia