Oyster Shell Recycling Program

After you enjoy a tasty oyster on the half-shell at your favorite seafood restaurant, that shell, along with thousands of others, is more often than not sent to a landfill. Rather than loosing this vital resource, the Galveston Bay Foundation partners with local restaurants to collect shucked oyster shells and return them to the bay to create new oyster habitat.

History of the ProgramHow it worksCurrent Restaurant Partners
The Oyster Shell Recycling Program was piloted in 2011 by the Galveston Bay Foundation (DSC_0817GBF) and Tommy’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar. Tommy’s Restaurant was the first to recycle oyster shells in the Houston-Galveston region and continues to recycle the largest quantity of oyster shells on annual basis. Since 2011, GBF has partnered with 10 restaurants and secured 3 storage sites (aka “curing sites”) for stockpiling the shells. GBF’s collection methods have also been refined over the years, thanks to the generous support provided by federal grants and local sponsors.

DSC_01151. Shell Collection: Restaurant staff deposit shucked oyster shells in 32-gallon recycling bins or 5-gallon buckets that are stored behind participating restaurants. These containers are collected on a weekly basis by GBF staff and are transported to a “curing site” where the shell is temporarily stored.

TXcity_site2.  Sun Curing: The oyster shells are trailered to one of GBF’s “curing sites” to be sun-bleached for a minimum of 6 months. This ensures that all bacteria and non-native species have been eliminated. GBF staff and volunteers conduct periodic maintenance at the curing sites to turn the shells with tractors, allowing it be thoroughly exposed to the sun.
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3.Shell Transport: Following the curing process, the shells are ready to be used in oyster reef restoration and enhancement projects throughout Galveston Bay. GBF works with construction companies and partners to transport the oyster shells to various restoration sites around the bay via dump trucks and trailers.


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For more information about the Oyster Shell Recycling Program or if you are interested in a partnership with GBF please contact Haille Carter (hcarter@galvbay.org).

Galveston Bay Foundation has reclaimed more than 500 tons of oyster shells with the help of local restaurants!

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This project is funded in part by a Texas Coastal Management Program Grant approved by the Texas Land Commissioner pursuant to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Award No. NA14NOS4190139.