Recycling for Reefs program serves dual purpose

Published 8:06 am Friday, October 22, 2021

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The North Carolina Coastal Federation is asking for the community’s help to give oysters a second chance by recycling oyster shells. Once collected, the federation works with partners to return the recycled oyster shells to the water, where they provide new habitat for fish and shellfish. Whether from an oyster roast, restaurant or backyard cook out, every shell collected can help protect and restore the coast.

The federation oversees several shell recycling stations across the coast to help make the process easy.

Oyster shell is a valuable resource in North Carolina and it can cost up to $3 per bushel when purchased for coastal restoration. It is also illegal to dump the shells in North Carolina landfills, making the recycling option that much more appealing. From 2003 to 2018, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries operated a state-funded oyster shell recycling program that provided 6-15% of the shell needed for restoration projects. The state-run oyster shell recycling program ended in 2018 due to budget cuts and staff reductions.


Courtesy NCCF

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The federation’s recycling program is filling the gap by providing a way for people and businesses to support a healthy coastal environment and keep shells out of the trash.

“The Town of Duck is happy to provide an oyster shell recycling collection site at the Town Park, making it more convenient for our restaurants, residents, and visitors to contribute to this program that restores habitat for the North Carolina coast,” said Christian Legner, public information and events director for the town. The Town of Duck is just one of many shell recycling drop off points along the coast.

For a complete list of coastwide recycling sites visit

For more information about the Recycling for Reefs program or to volunteer, contact Leslie Vegas at 252-473-1607 or