There are three new places to take your oyster shells to be recycled in Carteret County.
County officials have teamed up with the North Carolina Coastal Federation to host three oyster shell drop-off sites and Coastal Environmental Partnership and GFL Environmental will haul the dumpsters from the locations once full.
The Coastal Federation’s Recycling for Reefs Program collects recycled oyster shells and uses them to build oyster reefs and living shorelines, an effort to protect and restore oyster populations.
The three new oyster drop-off sites are located at Hibbs Road Convenience Site, 800 Hibbs Road, Newport; Otway Convenience Site, 485 Harkers Island Road; and N.C. Highway 58 Convenience Site, 1250 West Firetower Road, Swansboro. For a complete list of coastwide recycling sites visit the Coastal Federation’s website.
Havelock High School students painted oyster scenes on the dumpsters into which the shell is to be deposited.
The students were brought in because getting them involved in efforts like this is important to help foster the next generation of coastal stewards, Coastal Federation Coastal Educator Rachel Bisesi explained.
“It was really special to have students from Havelock High School involved. Through generous support from the Bosch Community Fund, we were able to provide students with lessons on the importance of oysters and were also able to engage them in the shell recycling process by painting the dumpsters, linking art and science,” said Bisessi. “ I always like to say that these are the most beautiful dumpsters in North Carolina!”
Oysters provide important habitats for fish, crabs, shrimp, and other species. They also help clean and filter the water. Oyster populations have decreased by 90% along our coast over the last 100 years.
It is illegal to throw away oyster shells in North Carolina. Oyster shells must be taken to official recycling drop-off locations so the shell can properly and strategically be put back in the water, where they will support the new growth of oysters.
Oyster shells are a valuable resource costing up to $3 per bushel when purchased for coastal restoration. Whether from an oyster roast, restaurant, or backyard cookout, every shell collected can help protect and restore our coast, according to the Coastal Federation.
In past years, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries operated a state-funded oyster shell recycling program but 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 recycle shells and keep them out of the landfill.
The expansion of the Recycling for Reefs program in Carteret County is funded by the Bosch Community Fund.
The Coastal Federation publishes Coastal Review.