Save Oyster Shell

Save Oyster Shell logoThe Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) needs your help–and your oyster shells–to restore native oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. Donate your empty shells to CBF so we can recycle them into more oyster reefs and repopulate the Bay with more oysters. Oyster shells are literally the foundation of our reef restoration efforts!

We use thousands of bushels of recycled oyster shells each year. Once the recycled shells are cleaned and cured, CBF places them in huge water tanks containing millions of microscopic oyster larvae, which then attach to the shells. On average, each recycled shell can become home to dozens of those baby oysters, called spat. CBF provides the the spat-on-shell to its oyster gardeners and plants them in rivers and the Bay to grow and expand oyster reefs.

Oyster shells are becoming increasingly scarce.  Through the Save Oyster Shell recycling program, shells that would typically be thrown away are saved and used in a variety of oyster restoration projects.

Video  WBAL-TV 11 08/13/12 Oyster Recycling Bins to Help Replenish Population

Spat on an oyster shellYour shells are used as homes for baby oysters (spat) like the shell in the photo. We place your recycled shells in tanks of water with millions of microscopic oyster larvae swimming and attaching to the shells. After a few days the spat-on-shell will be used to build a new oyster bar.

Virginia Public Drop-off Locations

There are several public shell recycling drop-off locations across Virginia. This program is a partnership between CBF and Keep Norfolk Beautiful. If you are interested in hosting a shell-recycling bin, contact Heather North at or 757-622-1964 ext.3303

Newport News

Mariners Museum
100 Museum Drive
(bin located in the first parking lot to the right)


Waste Management Facility
1176 Pineridge Road
(enter to right of building by Electronics/Hazardous Household Waste Recycling. Pineridge is off Azalea Garden and Village Roads. Turn into the first WM Facility entrance, follow the driveway behind the building, and then bear to the right. Shells are collected at the Electronics/Hazardous Household Waste Recycling Center.)
Open for Norfolk residents M-Sat. 10 a.m.—2 p.m.

Larchmont Library
6525 Hampton Blvd.
(under the Birdsong Wetlands kiosk)
Please call 757-441-1347 when you drop off shells at this location.


Devils Backbone Brewery
200 Mosbys Run
(bin located all the way to the right, behind the building)


Colonial Williamsburg Welcome Center
Near 101 Visitor Center Drive
Service road across Route 60 from Parkway Drive
(bin is located across the street)
GPS: 37.280507, -76.692713
see map

Virginia Participating Restaurants

The following restaurants also participate in the Save Oyster Shell program:


Devils Backbone Brewing Company


York River Oyster Company


Harpoon Larry's Oyster Bar & Grill
Crabtown Raw Bar and Grill


Smalls Smokehouse and Oyster Bar


Berrets Seafood Restaurant and Taphouse Grill
Fat Tuna
Le Yaca
The Corner Pocket
Waypoint Grill

S.O.S. also collects shells from oyster roasts and seafood festivals. We can provide bins and signage to minimize shells mixing with other refuse.

More Ways to Help

  • Spread the word
  • Become a volunteer and help collect shells from participating restaurants and oyster roasts.
  • Volunteer at the Virginia Oyster Restoration center to clean and bag shells.

To participate or for more program information contact Heather North at or 757-622-1964 ext. 3303. 

Partners and Funders

A special thank you to our supporters and partners in this effort, including Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund (funded by the sale of Chesapeake Bay license plates), City of Norfolk Public Works, Keep Norfolk Beautiful, Waste Management, and the Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program.

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