Shell Recycling

SRA large banner

Welcome to the Shell Recycling Alliance

Where “no shell is left behind!”

Oyster shell is the best, most natural material used to rebuild oyster reefs but it’s also in very short supply. To save this ecologically important byproduct, ORP created the Shell Recycling Alliance in 2010 to reclaim shell, free of charge, from restaurants and other seafood businesses. Shell that otherwise would be dumped in landfills is now recycled, cleaned, treated with baby oysters and put back into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

In fact, ORP is now the nation’s largest shell recycling network, annually collecting 36,000 bushels of shell from approximately 200 restaurants and 70 public drop sites in the mid-Atlantic region. Since the Alliance’s launch, ORP has reclaimed 258,044 bushels of shell, which equates to 9,030 tons kept out of area landfills, more than $700,000 saved by local businesses in waste collection fees, and enough substrate to support the planting of more than 1.29 billion oysters in local waters.


SRA button 23   SRA button 12   SRA button 6


Follow that shell through the recycling & oyster restoration process


ORP will consider regularly picking-up oyster shell from restaurants and other seafood businesses that meet the following qualifications:

  • Located in central Maryland, Washington DC, or Northern VA
  • Serve a minimum of over 500 oysters per week
  • Can save a covered, 32-gal container of shells in cold storage or at a loading dock, waste room, or outdoor dumpster area for a maximum of two weeks.

Meet the qualifications? Fill out this form to let us know you’re interested!

The State of Maryland offers tax credits for businesses that recycle oyster shell. Learn more here.


Did you recycle shell in 2022? Fill out the form below to receive your Tax Credit Certificate:

“We are so happy to be partners with ORP, and participate in their Shell Alliance Program. They make it very easy for us to recycle our shells (with very regular weekly pickup) and I am proud of the amount of shell we have helped get back into the Chesapeake. Hopefully we help make a difference for the future generations and their ability to enjoy the wonderful natural resources our bay has to offer.
– Dylan Salmon, owner of Dylan’s Oyster Cellar

“Since we take from our seas, we need to give back to our seas. Partnering with the ORP ensures that the future of our waterways will be clean and bountiful. You all make it so easy to be a part of the SRA. Our staff is so into this program that they actually feel guilty if one shell winds up in the trash and not into the recycling bucket. Prompt shell pick-ups along with clear and responsive communications makes the ORP a must for ANY restaurant that has a raw bar. We are proud to be part of these conservation efforts!”
– Tricia & Brad Hudson, owners of Hudson Coastal

“The Local Oyster has been working with the Shell Recycling Alliance since our inception in 2013.  Raising awareness and giving back to the Chesapeake Bay has been one of our goals since day one.  Let’s Go ORP!”
– Nick Schauman, partner of The Local Oyster