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Oyster Shell Recycling Basics

COMMUNITY CENTERClean Water & WaterwaysAug 28, 2019Guest Contributor

Author: Guest Contributor

Can you spot the five oyster spats?

Be sure to save and RECYCLE your oyster shells!

It is prime season to consume oysters, and in coastal Virginia, that means getting together and roasting oysters (and maybe perhaps enjoying a local, delicious beverage)!  Inquiring minds want to know, do you recycle your oyster shells at the end of the day?  If not, you should, and here’s why!

  1. There is a shortage of oyster shell that is critical in oyster restoration throughout the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.
  2. One oyster shell could end up as the home for a dozen oysters.
  3. Once established, one oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day.  This means they remove algae and small particles from the waterways, improving the water quality.
  4. As oyster reefs develop, they create habitat for a lot of other aquatic life such as fish and crab.
  5. The Chesapeake Oyster Alliance has a goal of adding 10 BILLION new oysters to the Chesapeake Bay by 2025.  In order to reach this goal, it is up to us to recycle our oyster shells so they can grow spat (baby oysters) to be “planted” in the Bay.

So, how does one go about recycling said oyster shell? Easy!

  1. Collect the oyster shells after the oyster has been consumed; try to keep trash out of the oysters.
  2. If possible, hose off and dry the shells (but this is not required).
  3. Find a shell drop off location near you.
  4. Drop your oyster shells off and be glad to know that you have done your part to restore the oysters and improve water quality in the Bay!
  5. Use the hash tag of #10billionoysters to help raise awareness and involvement in this effort.

For additional information on the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance, please visit their website at

Post contributed by Christel Dyer, Chief of Treatment at HRSD Atlantic / Boat Harbor / Nansemond Treatment Plants.