Oyster Shell Recycling

It seems pretty simple when you think about it. Use discarded oyster shells from local restaurants to restore oyster reefs and coastal shoreline. After all, oyster shells are part of what naturally built these reefs in the first place.


Putting a straightforward idea into practice (kind of like using restaurants to feed people in need) requires logistics and coordination, and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) did just that in 2014 by starting its Oyster Shells Recycling Program.

To date, the program has recycled more than 10 million pounds of shells, resulting in the protection of 7,000 feet of shoreline and the creation of acres of reef habitat.


Kellyn LaCour-Conant – Restoration Programs Director

“CRCL is doing some critical work in Louisiana coastal restoration,” says Chef’s Brigade Executive Director Troy Gilbert. “Partnering with them is a natural fit and we’re excited for other opportunities to work with them.”


Just like the program itself, it seemed logical that Chef’s Brigade would begin partnering with CRCL. There are currently more than 80 restaurant brigade members, and many of our members use oysters in their menus. That’s a lot of oyster shells potentially being wasted, but with the partnership, many of our brigade members are now part of the oyster shell recycling program.


Chef’s Brigade and brigade members care about the environment and local fisheries. The wetlands and the Gulf of Mexico have provided an incredible bounty of seafood for thousands of years, and it is up to us to protect and restore it. Chef’s Brigade has been covering the recycling program fee for our brigade members, because we strongly believe in sustainability programs like these and we are proud of our partnership with CRCL.

In July, using some of the shells recycled by our brigade members, CRCL in collaboration with the Grand Bayou Indian Village and an army of volunteers, restored the Plaquemines Reef. Indigenous Native Americans had originally built the reef one container of shells at a time over hundreds of years. Local Native Americans consider it sacred ground and thanks to the restoration efforts, it now has a shoreline of 300-400 feet of protective oyster shells that present a barrier against encroaching tides.

Think about that the next time you order a dozen raw. A great meal and you’re saving the planet.

If you are interested in supporting the Oyster Shell Recycling Program, please CLICK HERE for a list of participating Restaurants