Oyster Restoration - Save Oyster Shell

The 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 turn 2,000 bushels of recycled oyster shells each year into habitat for millions of oysters planted in the Bay and its rivers. 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 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 Shells recycling program, shells that would typically be thrown away are saved and used in a variety of oyster restoration projects.

Your 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 restore oyster reefs.

See the program in action on these local television news reports

WTKR-TV 3 (Virginia) 11/22/17 Local Effort to Restore Oysters

WBAL-TV 11 (Maryland) 08/13/12 Oyster Recycling Bins to Help Replenish Population  

Virginia Public Drop-off Locations

There are several public shell recycling drop-off locations across Virginia. If you are interested in hosting a shell-recycling bin, contact Heather Lockwood at hlockwood@cbf.org or 757-644-4125.


Captain Chuck-a-mucks Sandbar & Grill
21088 Marina Road.
Bin located to left of the building.


Great Bridge High School
301 Hanbury Road West
Bin is located in front of the school, off bypass road next to the chain link fence—near bus parking.
Do not drop off shells around 3:40 p.m. when school lets out! (Or you'll have a tough time getting in/out)

Gloucester Point

Virginia Institute of Marine Science
1219 Franklin Road
Shells can be dumped in orange bushel baskets by shell washer.


Sam Rust Seafood
620 Regional Drive
Bin is located in the parking lot to the far right.


In partnership with Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association
Kilmarnock Boys Camp
658 Boys Camp Road
Bin is lcoated in the back right corner of the property.
Call TOGA to coordinate drop off:
Madison Boyd 804-462-9104 or 703-946-4945
Vic Spain 804-413-1020


in partnership with Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program

Kilmarnock Recycling Center
248 White Pine Drive, Weems
Open 7 a.m.-7 p.m.


Clover Hill High School 
13301 Kelly Green Lane
Bin located in the first parking lot to the right.

Newport News

Mariners Museum
100 Museum Drive
Bin located in the first parking lot to the right.


City of Norfolk Waste Management Facility
1176 Pineridge Road 
Please go to Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics. Open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for Norfolk residents.

Larchmont Library
6525 Hampton Blvd.
Bin located under the Birdsong Wetlands kiosk. Please call 757-441-1347 when shells are dropped off.

Keep Norfolk Beautiful, Ernie Morgan Environmental Action Center
3500 A Granby St.
From Granby Street, take the Zoo entrance and then the first left all the way to the end to the Ernie Morgan Environmental Action Center. The shell bin is to the right of the building against the fence.


Devils Backbone Brewery
200 Mosbys Run
Bin located all the way to the right, behind the building.


Smithfield Station
409 S. Church Street
Bin is located in front of the restaurant.


Bennetts Creek Park
3000 Bennetts Creek Park Road
Beside the parking lot infront of the boat ramp and fishing pier.


Surry Seafood Company
633 Marina Drive
Located to the left of the building.


James City County Recycling Center
185 Industrial Boulevard

Virginia Beach

Brock Environmental Center
3663 Marlin Bay Drive
The Anne Shumadine Shell Recycling Station is located on the left before the dumpsters. Please dump shells into orange baskets located inside the trailer. Gates are open to drive up to the Station from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. At other times use walking path.

Old Donation School
4633 Honeygrove Road
The shell bin is located in the rear of the school behind a black fence.

Tallwood High School 
1668 Kempsville Road 
Bin located around the back of the school, past the tennis courts in the back corner parking lot.


James City County Recycling Center
105 Tewning Road (off Ironbound Road)

William & Mary Campus
Tennis Court, off Ironbound Road
Bin is located near the Alexander Galt House and Munford Hall.

Participating Restaurants

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


Captain Chuck-A-Muck's


Devil's Backbone Brewing Company


Black Pelican
The Butcher's Son
Joe's Crab Shack
Off the Hook
Red Bones
Surf Rider (Greenbrier)


York River Oyster Company


Fuller's Raw Bar
Oyster Alley
Paradise Ocean Club at Fort Monroe
Pour Girls Bar & Grill

Newport News

Crab Shack
Fin Seafood
Hoss's Deli & Oyster Bar
Schooners Grill
Whole Foods (12080 Jefferson Avenue)


in partnership with Keep Norfolk Beautiful and Norfolk Waste Management

A.W. Shucks
Big Easy Oyster Bar and Grill
Mack's Barge
Smalls Smokehouse and Oyster Bar
Stripers Waterside
Supper Southern Morsels
Todd Jurich's Bistro


Legend Brewing Depot
Fish & Slips


Smithfield Station Waterfront Dining Restaurant


Riverstone Chophouse


Surry Seafood Company

Virginia Beach

Catch 31
Calypso Bar & Grill
Casby's Kitchen & Tap
Chick's Oyster Bar
Founders Inn
Hot Tuna
McCormick & Schmicks
OBS Oyster Bar and Steaks
Surf Rider North (Cypress Point)
The Butchers Son
The Landing
Zoe's Steak & Seafood


Aberdeen Barn
Berret's Seafood Restaurant and Taphouse Grill
Captain George's Seafood Restaurant
Casa Pearl
Craft 31
James Landing Grill
Jimmy's Oven & Grill
Le Yaca
The Corner Pocket
The Trellis Bar and Grill
Tuscany Ristorante
Waypoint Grill


Water Street Grill
Yorktown Pub

More Ways to Help

  • CBF also collects shells from oyster roasts and seafood festivals. Contact us ahead of time and we can provide bins and signage to minimize shells mixing with other refuse.
  • Drop off used shell at a public shell recycling bin.
  • 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 Lockwood at hlockwood@cbf.org or 757-644-4125.

Partners and Funders

Expansion of oyster shell recycling across the state is supported by the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, funded by the sale of Chesapeake Bay license plates. Shell collection in Norfolk is supported by Keep Norfolk Beautiful and Norfolk Waste Management. There are many other entities in Virginia that collect oyster shell and make restoration possible, including the Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program (VOSRP) at Virginia Commonwealth University's Rice Rivers Center and Lynnhaven River NOW. Learn more about their efforts and support them as they make use of this precious resource.

The Bay Needs You

The 2018 State of the Bay Report makes it clear that the Bay needs our support now more than ever. Your donation helps the Chesapeake Bay Foundation maintain our momentum toward a restored Bay, rivers, and streams for today and generations to come.

Donate Today


Do you enjoy working with others to help clean the Chesapeake Bay? Do you have a few hours to spare? Whether growing oysters, planting trees, or helping in our offices, there are plenty of ways you can contribute.

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