NEWPORT — The Coastal Environmental Partnership is working with the North Carolina Coastal Federation to help ramp up oyster shell recycling throughout Craven and Pamlico counties.
It’s illegal to dispose of oyster shell in North Carolina landfills. The Coastal Federation’s Recycling for Reefs program collects recycled oyster shells and uses them to build oyster reefs and living shorelines. Oysters provide important habitats for fish, crabs, shrimp and other species. They also help clean and filter the water.
The Coastal Federation announced Friday that new shell recycling drop-off sites are open in Craven and Pamlico counties for public use. The Coastal Environmental Partnership has partnered with the federation to host the shell drop-off sites at two of its facilities. Craven County is collecting shell at a county convenience site.
Drop off oyster shell at the following locations:
- The CEP Grantsboro Transfer Station at 3291 N.C. 306 North, Grantsboro.
- The CEP Tuscarora Landfill at 7400 Old U.S. 70 West, New Bern.
- The Craven County Convenience Center at 7240 U.S. 70 East, New Bern.
Students from Swansboro and Havelock high schools adorned dumpsters for oyster shell recycling with oyster-themed murals.
Oyster populations have decreased 90% along the coast over the last 100 years. The Coastal Federation said it is vital to take every step possible to protect and restore oyster populations, which in turn supports better water quality.
One way you can help oysters is to recycle oyster shells.
When dropped off at official recycling locations your shells can be used properly and strategically to support the new growth of oysters.
“Whether from an oyster roast, restaurant, or backyard cookout, every shell collected can help protect and restore our coast,” the federation said. Oyster shells are a valuable resource costing up to $3 per bushel when purchased for coastal restoration.
From 2003 to 2018, the N.C. 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.
The Coastal Federation is working to fill that gap by providing a way for the public and businesses to support a healthy coastal environment and keep shells out of the trash. The Recycling for Reefs program in Craven and Pamlico counties is funded by the Bosch Foundation. For a complete list of coastwide recycling sites visit nccoast.org.