Lobster shells are usually just thrown into the trash bin but scientists have discovered that they make effective biodegradable golf balls.
Researchers with the University of Maine told the Toronto Star that lost lobster shell golf balls would take around two weeks to decompose. That is much faster than normal plastic golf balls, which are estimated to decompose over at least 1,000 years in forested areas or in ponds.
Scientists also discovered that lobster shells can be used as plant pots, coasters, or decorative tiles. “Instead of dumping the shells at landfills, the idea is to add value to the product, which hopefully will funnel back into the industry,” David Neivandt, a professor of chemical and biological engineering, told The Associated Press.
In order to make the golf balls, the shells are ground up and mixed with a glue-like substance for the core.
“The first time I hit it, I was surprised it didn’t shatter into a million pieces,” Alex Caddell, one of Neivandt’s students, told AP. “And it flew straight. I usually have a pretty bad slice, so to hit it straight was amazing.”
However, the lobster golf balls do not last very long and can only take a few hits, reported the Star. Researchers hope to make the golf balls for cruise ships as it is prohibited for normal golf balls to be dumped into the ocean due to how long they take to decompose.
“This is something we could eventually work on, but we’re still at the prototype phase,” Bob Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute, told the Star.