Nov 19, 2023 - Food and Drink

Oyster Oyster turns Champagne bottles into ceramics

A plate made from crushed bottles at Oyster Oyster, served with Champagne

From bottle to plate, plus a glass of sustainable Ruinart bubbles. Photo courtesy of Oyster Oyster

Oyster Oyster chef Rob Rubba is turning trash into treasure at his Michelin-starred Shaw restaurant, using a cutting-edge machine to crush used wine bottles that are transformed into beautiful ceramics.

Why it matters: Rubba walks the sustainable walk — to start, his hyper-local, mostly vegan restaurant never uses plastics — and making plateware from recyclables is the next step.

How it works: Rubba procured a $10,000 AquaTools crusher that turns the restaurant's spent bottles into a fine, glassy sand.

  • The ceramicists at Material Things Studio near Hyattsville, Md., transform the sand into plates by baking it in a clay mold.

Zoom in: Oyster Oyster's first line of plates are used for snacks in the tasting menu, accompanied by a glass of Ruinart Blanc Singulier — a new climate change-minded release from France's oldest Champagne house.

Between the lines: The machine is no small expense for a tiny, independent venture like Oyster Oyster — but there are other reasons to do it besides upcycling tableware.

  • The process makes bottles more easily recyclable, reducing their volume by around 90%, according to the manufacturer. The process also requires fewer fuel-consuming pick-ups.

What they're saying: "You'll often see these machines marketed towards hotels and larger restaurants — imagine how much glassware they're going through," says Rubba. "For us, we want to have control of our waste."

What's next: More plates! Potentially for purchase alongside the restaurant's other sustainable efforts like homemade candles fashioned from local beeswax and filtered cooking oil. And (fingers crossed) that addictive marigold butter.

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