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CRCL’s Oyster Shell Recycling Program

CRCL established the Oyster Shell Recycling Program (OSRP) in 2014 to keep shell out of landfills and slow coastal land loss. In partnership with New Orleans-area restaurants and our legion of volunteers, we collect oyster shells to restore reefs that help protect Louisiana’s eroding coastline. Since starting the program in 2014, we have recycled more than 12.6 million pounds of shell and protected over 8,000 feet of shoreline along the coast. Once you shuck ’em, don’t just chuck ’em!

Why do we recycle oyster shell?

  • Oyster are an incredible natural resource! Living oysters and oyster reefs help improve water quality, provide fishing habitat, support the local economy and help protect shoreline by breaking waves.
  • Oyster shell is the best substrate for baby oysters.
  • Louisiana produces approximately one-third of the nation’s oysters.
  • Louisiana currently experiences a shell deficit – most shell removed from the coast is not returned. While oyster harvesters, fishing communities and some processors have returned shells to the water for centuries, oysters that are consumed in restaurants often end up in landfills.
  • CRCL provides restaurants and residents the opportunity to participate in the longstanding tradition of returning the shell to the water.

How is the shell used?

  • 100% of the shell is returned to Louisiana waters.
  • In partnership with local communities and over 2,000 volunteers, CRCL has constructed over 8,000 feet of oyster reef living shoreline protection with our recycled shell. Our reefs enhance local fisheries, reduce shoreline erosion as much as 50%, and help protect irreplaceable cultural heritage sites. CRCL constructs one recycled oyster reef per year.
  • Each reef is monitored annually to assess shoreline changes and biological development.

How can I get involved?

  • You can help save the coast by eating oysters! Patronize the restaurants listed below and be sure to tell them that you appreciate their participation in oyster shell recycling.
  • Volunteer with CRCL to help bag shell for use in reef restoration projects, or join us on the water for a reef deployment!

Click here to stay informed on upcoming events.


It took thousands of people eating mounds of oysters for our Oyster Shell Recycling Program to have enough reclaimed oyster shell to construct our first oyster reef. This 360° video shows the construction of our first half-mile oyster reef using 1.7 million pounds of oyster shell collected from New Orleans restaurants.


Oyster Shell Recycling Program

CRCL’s Oyster Shell Recycling Program is the first of its kind in Louisiana! Find out more about this simple and delicious way to help restore our coast.

OSRP Interactive Map

Travel to all the important places of our Oyster Shell Recycling Program – from your favorite oyster bars, to the CRCL Restoration Headquarters to the coastal waters of Biloxi Marsh. Check out our interactive map!


Once you shuck ’em,
Don’t just chuck ’em!