Save Oyster Shells in Virginia
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
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.
Sam Rust Seafood
Glen Allen Sports Complex
Ernie Morgan Environmental Action Center
Bennetts Creek Park
James City County Recycling Center/Waste Management Facility
CBF Brock Environmental Center
College of William & Mary Campus
James City County Waste Management Facility
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.