Shell Recycling

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Welcome to the Shell Recycling Alliance, where “no shell is left behind.”

Natural oyster shell is the best material on which to raise new oysters and restore oyster reefs. Scientists know that now, but for generations used oyster shells were used to build roads, driveways and housing construction. Some ended up in landfills. The Oyster Recovery Partnership developed the Shell Recycling Alliance (SRA) to save this extremely limited natural resource. Every half shell collected by the SRA creates a new home for approximately 10 baby oysters.

Follow that shell! Check out the shell recycling and oyster restoration process here.

When the program launched in 2010, 22 restaurants signed on as members. Six year later, the SRA is now 300 members strong, and the largest shell recycling network in the country.In addition to restaurants and businesses, the SRA collects used shell from public drop sites in 11 counties.

In 2016, over 30,000 bushels of oyster shell was collected from establishments in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. The shell that was collected in 2016 will enable ORP to plant over 150 million filter-feeding oysters into the Chesapeake Bay. Since its launch, the SRA has recycled 100,000 bushels of shell.

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Learn how your restaurant can join the SRA.

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

Businesses and bay-area residents play an important role in restoring oysters to the Chesapeake Bay. “I appreciate the pickup of shells,” said Sunny White, owner of Captain White Seafood City in Washington D.C. “We depend on the Chesapeake Bay for a lot of oysters. It’s good to restock the Back for the future, and it’s also nice to not have to dump used shell in the landfill.”

Jay Fleming Photography