Don't chuck that shuck!

Why recycle shell?

Since 2013, The Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program has facilitated the collection of waste oyster shells from restaurants and returned them to the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay to help restore wild oyster populations, improve water quality and provide new fish habitat. 

Close up of oyster strike


Become a Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program volunteer! Opportunities vary throughout the year, with cooler months bagging cured shell at Rice Rivers Center, to warmer months when we return shells with spat to reefs in the Piankatank River.

Six pairs of hands with gloves picking up oyster shells


The majority of shell that we use are gathered from restaurants and retailers that partner with the VOSRP. Restaurants throughout central and eastern Virginia collect the waste shell, and volunteers gather them and transport them to Rice Rivers Center to cure. 

Oysters on the half shell on a plate

Public drop-off

If you enjoy oysters at home or at a non-participating restaurant, you can drop off shell at one of our official drop-off locations.

two barrels with sign

Program partners and supporters

Our strength lies in the corporations, local governments, small businesses, watermen and individuals who are a big part of the program's success.


Six people on a boat near the dock

From an oyster's view.

Ron Lopez, a member of Rice Rivers Center's faculty and an award-winning videographer, wrote and produced, "An Oyster's-Eye view of the Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program." It is shot from an oyster shell perspective as it makes it's way from the waters of the Bay and back again.

Help us grow

Your support helps keep this program active and expand to new communities.

Please consider a gift to the VOSRP.

Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program VCU Rice Rivers Center logo