Recycle Oyster Shells in Harford County to Help Restore the Chesapeake Bay

Pictured from left: Harford County Executive Barry Glassman; Allison Cordell, Director, Legislative and Constituent Services, Maryland Department of Natural Resources; Lou Ward, Owner, The Bayou Restaurant; Jeffrey Schoenberger, Administrator, Harford County Public Works, Division of Environmental Services; Wendy Doring, Harford County Recycling Program Manager, Maryland Environmental Service; Del. Andrew Cassilly, Resource Conservation Manager, Harford County Public Schools.

The Harford County Office of Recycling has partnered with The Bayou Restaurant to provide a public recycling bin for oyster shells at 927 Pulaski Highway (U.S. Route 40) in Havre de Grace. The Bayou location joins the Harford Waste Disposal Center in Street as a collection site for oyster shells from Harford County restaurants, caterers, and residents. There is no drop-off charge at either location. Loose shells should be placed in the outdoor bins – no plastic bags, please.

Recycled shells are used to raise new oysters and restore oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay. In 2017, Harford County residents recycled over 59,200 lbs. or nearly 1,000 bushels of oyster shells, preventing this valuable natural resource from going into landfills.

Collected shells from Harford County are taken to the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory, in Cambridge to be cleaned and seeded with up to 10 oyster larvae before being returned to the bay. Once they mature, the oysters help restore water quality through their filter-feeding capabilities. In fact, one oyster can filter 50 gallons of water per day. Natural oyster shell is the best material on which to raise new oysters and restore oyster reefs.

The oyster shell-recycling bin at The Bayou was donated by the Oyster Recovery Partnership’s Shell Recycling Alliance. The Oyster Recovery Partnership is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that plans, promotes and implements science-based and sustainable shellfish restoration, aquaculture and wild fishery activities to protect our environment, support our economy and preserve our cultural heritage.

The Harford Waste Disposal Center Recycling Facility located at 3241 Scarboro Road in Street also accepts oyster shells during regular operating hours, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. More information is available on the county website at

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