Town, Restaurants Launch Oyster & Clam Shell Recycling Initiative to Strengthen Marine Environment

Town, Restaurants Launch Oyster & Clam Shell Recycling Initiative to Strengthen Marine Environment

Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, members of the Town Board and local restaurant owners today announced an innovative, new shell recycling initiative to strengthen our local marine environment. Under this program, the Town seeks partnerships with local restaurants and other entities to collect oyster and clam shells from dinner plates and kitchen preparation tables. Town aqua-culturists regularly pickup shells from local partners and deliver them to an environmental curing facility. Once ready for deposit into waterways, the shells will be strategically placed at the bottom of local Oyster Bay and Cold Spring harbors.


“The shells from your dinner plate provide an excellent source of habitat for young shellfish to grow as they offer protection from predators and weather conditions,” said Supervisor Saladino. “My administration is committed to improving water quality, expanding the shellfish population and bettering our environment. This Oyster and Clam Shell Recycling initiative expands upon our ongoing efforts by recruiting local restauranteurs to recycling their shell-waste and better our harbor.”


While this Oyster and Clam Shell Recycling initiative helps the environment, it also helps restauranteurs toward achieving compliance requirements with the New York State Food Donation and Scraps Recycling Law while also reducing waste carting expenses. Local businessowners could also potentially receive a tax incentive, currently under review in New York State.


Councilwoman Vicki Walsh added, “This Oyster and Clam Shell Recycling initiative brings the entire community together to help restore shellfish populations in Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbors by providing habitat for shellfish and other marine species, improve water quality, and restoring local food supply. It’s a win-win for the community and our environment.”


“Friends of the Bay is very pleased to see the town’s shell recycling program come to fruition,” Executive Director Heather Johnson commented. “Our organization recommended that the town undertake the program several years ago and has been involved in discussions with officials on how best to implement it. Ultimately the cured shells will be placed back on the bay bottom to create new habitat, which will help with water quality and hopefully help to bring back the shellfish population, which has seriously declined in recent years.”


Shellfish are essential mollusks in the local marine environment as they filter water through their feeding mechanisms. A single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of seawater per day, making shellfish Mother Nature’s most valuable marine cleansers. Studies indicate that by expanding shellfish populations in local harbors we can improve water quality for generations to come.


To participate in this initiative or obtain additional information, restaurants should visit, or contact the Town of Oyster Bay Department of Environmental Resources at (516) 677-5943 or via email at