Mississippi Oyster Shell Recycling program aims to collect from restaurants in spring

The Nature Conservancy of Mississippi spoke with the Harrison County Board of Supervisors about the plan to start an oyster shell recycling program on the Coast.

Oyster shell recycling programs exist in at least 14 other states. Oyster shells are typically discarded by restaurants and end up in landfills, but the program will instead collect discarded shells and use them to replenish the oyster beds for reproduction.

Twenty-six Coast restaurants are willing to participate in the new program. The restaurants have estimated five million oysters are sold annually along the Coast, which roughly amounts to 1.6 million pounds of shells discarded every year. Director of Marine Program’s Tom Mohrman said, “Oysters are something great for the environment and the economy. What we’re hoping to do is connect to restaurants and to patrons where eating an oyster is an essential act of conservation by just going down, having some oysters, and making sure those shells get recycled you’re helping to contribute to the sustainability within Mississippi.”

The Nature Conservancy and project partners aim to begin collection of oyster shells from Coast restaurants starting in the spring. The program is paid for through an award, up to two years from the Restore Council through the Department of Environmental Quality.

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