Save Oyster Shells in Virginia

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Collecting oyster shells for CBFs Save Oyster Shell program.

CBF Staff

Oyster shells are literally the foundation of our reef restoration efforts! The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) needs your help–and your oyster shells–to restore native oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. Recycle your empty shells by dropping them off at the locations below so we can repopulate the Bay with more oysters.

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.

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.

Virginia Shell Drop-off Locations

Drop-off Locations

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 CBF's oyster restoration office at 757-644-4125.

Hampton

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

Henrico County

Glen Allen Sports Complex
2175 Mountain Road

Newport News

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

Norfolk

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.

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


Smithfield

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

Suffolk

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

Toano

James City County Recycling Center/Waste Management Facility
185 Industrial Boulevard
Open Daily 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Virginia Beach

CBF 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.

Williamsburg

College of William & Mary Campus
Bin is located behind Dillard Complex off tennis court.

James City County Waste Management Facility
117 Tewning Road
Open: Monday 8 a.m.-12 p.m.; Tuesday-Saturday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

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 one of the public shell recycling bins listed above.
  • 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.
  • Become a Virginia oyster gardener.

To participate or for more program information, contact Jackie Shannon at jshannon@cbf.org or 804-832-8804.

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.

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