By Destiny Brown 

In 2016, the Alabama Coastal Foundation partnered with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to establish an oyster shell recycling program for the local restaurants. Restaurants from all over the Gulf Coast participate in an effort to rebuild the short supply of oyster reefs in our bays and inlets using recycled oysters that would otherwise be going to a landfill. 

As of July 27, 2018,  the program has collected over 6,252,095 oyster shells, which is 100 dump trucks worth and the weight of 133 elephants. 

The program was set up in phases starting with the Causeway Route (Fall 2016) and the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach Route (Spring 2017) for Phase 2. The program is now open to all restaurants in coastal Alabama. 

“This program helps sustain our local oysters by keeping them in a local environment,” said Rod Peevy, participant of the Oyster Shell Recycling Program. “The oysters are picked up, cleaned, treated with a spat (a juvenile oyster) and returned to the bays and inlets to create new beds. These beds also provide habitats for shrimp, crabs and other creatures of the sea.”

This effort also limits erosion out of the ecosystem. 

Restaurants and Oyster Houses participate in The Oyster Shell Recycling Program all year long and local garbage service, Republic Services, picks them up and hauls them off to be recycled.

In addition, all participating restaurants are now members of the Green Coast Council, a forum for business and industry leaders who practice and promote environmental sustainability principles. This program is also involve with the  Create a Clean Water Future Campaign.

For more information, visit joinafc.com.