The federal government is pumping $1 million into two research projects in Cape Breton aimed at turning waste from seafood processing into everything from diet supplements to paint additives.

The Verschuren Centre at Cape Breton University will receive $750,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to create a pilot facility that will grind up discarded fish and shellfish parts and turn them into value-added products.

Beth Mason, CEO of the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment, said it's a practical solution to reducing waste that would normally be put in a landfill.

"It also gives added product lines for more revenue for those companies and then we're developing new product lines," she said. "Hopefully we'll get new companies coming along that will be engaged in marketing those.

"We hope for growing jobs and industry in the area."

 Verschuren Centre at Cape Breton University

The Verschuren Centre at Cape Breton University will receive $750,000 for the 18-month project. (George Mortimer/CBC)

The "biorefinery technology" developed at the centre will turn the waste into animal feed, plant bioactives, or even human food, she said.

"They're a hugely valuable resource," Mason said. "There's massive value in them if we can cost-effectively pull them out and the trick here is our process will do that."

Mason said the project will take two years to complete.

Shrimp shells diverted from landfill

North Sydney's Northsyde Processing, a division of Louisbourg Seafoods Ltd., will also receive close to $300,000 to implement a filtering system to remove shrimp shells from seafood waste.

The company will work with the Verschuren Centre. Project development manager Adam Mugridge said Northsyde Processing can divert 500 kilograms of solid waste.

Mugridge said the type of products made from shrimp shells include medical bandages, diet supplements, paint additives and chemicals.

Mugridge said the company will work with northern shrimp, pandalus borealis and snow crab. He said Northsyde Processing expects to create about three to five new jobs from the process.

"The days if diverting things to landfills and just hoping that they'll disappear seems to have passed," he said.

Manure in 1968

Cape Breton-Canso Liberal MP Roger Cuzner, who made the announcement in Sydney Wednesday, said it's a good investment in future innovation.

Cape Breton University chancellor Annette Verschuren said she sees a lot of promise in the project. She said her father, in 1968, wanted to spread the cow manure on the fields for fertilizer.

"At that time, no dairy farmer was doing it, but it was that innovation that saved the family a lot of money and using that waste really made a difference in terms of productivity in the farm," she said.

"We're talking about the same thing today."