ORP’s Shell Recycling Alliance is comprised of Bay-friendly businesses who go above and beyond, dutifully recycling oyster shells to be used in Bay restoration efforts. Shell is an increasingly limited, mission-ciritcal resource for ORP, and the best, most natural material used to rebuild reefs. That’s why this Earth Day, we are announcing the Top Ten Shell Recycling Alliance Members of 2022. ORP’s shell recycling crew keeps track of shells recycled from each member to the tenth of a bushel (here’s an example basket), and gives each Top Ten producer a commemorative plaque to mark their contribution. Of course, every shell recycling partner deserves applause for their sustainable practices, and we hope you’ll dine with them and tell them ORP sent you. See a complete list here.

  1. Jessie Taylor Seafood (Washington, DC): 1,688.35 bushels
  2. King Street Oyster Bar (Washington, DC): 1,286.56 bushels
  3. Old Ebbitt Grill (Washington, DC): 1,234.24 bushels
  4. Boatyard Bar & Grill (Annapolis, MD): 884.77 bushels
  5. Lexington Market (Baltimore, MD): 778.13 bushels 
  6. Ryleigh’s Oyster (Hunt Valley, MD): 754.39 bushels
  7. The Salt Line (Washington, DC): 725.15 bushels 
  8. Whiskey & Oyster (Alexandria, VA): 719.99 bushels 
  9. The Walrus Oyster & Ale House (Columbia, MD): 685.94 bushels
  10. King Street Oyster Bar (Potomac, MD): 595.81 bushels


Last year, ORP’s Shell Recycling Alliance saw the recovery of over 29,000 bushels of shells, bringing the grand total to over 290,000 bushels recycled since inception in 2010,” said Tommy Price, program manager. This volume exceeded 2021 and is enough shell to fill roughly 4 Olympic sized swimming pools.” 

Since the Shell Recycling Alliance’s launch in 2010, collection efforts have kept 10,150 tons out of area landfills, saved local businesses ~$850,000 in waste collection fees, and provided enough substrate to support the planting of up to 1.45 billion spat-on-shell in local waters. The program is the nation’s largest with nearly 200 member businesses and over 70 public shell dropsites in Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia.

“Old Ebbitt Grill is incredibly proud to be named one of this year’s Top 10 Shell Recycling Alliance restaurants. The Ebbitt is very fortunate to partner with the ORP, allowing us to donate thousands of bushels of shells to be recycled, cleaned, treated, and put back into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. This process ensures the continuous health and bounty of The Bay which is not only a priceless part of our local ecosystem but also an essential source of seafood for Washington, DC’s restaurant industry” says Bart Farrell, Vice President of Food and Beverage for Clyde’s Restaurant Group. “We’d like to thank our amazing Ebbitt Team for remaining committed to doing their part in caring for the Bay. Between this year’s Oyster Riot in November and the 3,000 oysters served on average during daily service, it is Old Ebbitt’s hope to recycle as many as 1.2 million oyster shells in 2023!”

Oysters play a vital role in improving Bay health by filtering excess nutrients from the water, and their reefs create habitat for a multitude of marine life. Their benefits extend beyond helping the environment as their harvest provides jobs for many watermen and related businesses. And, of course, they are delicious and nutritious to eat!

Oyster shell is an essential building block for a healthy oyster population. In fact, every half shell can become “home” for 10+ spat (baby oysters). After collection, shell is aged outdoors for one year, washed, and then set with spat at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Laboratory Oyster Hatchery in Cambridge, MD. ORP works with more restoration partners to plant the spat-on-shell onto specially selected reefs throughout the Chesapeake Bay. To date, ORP has planted over 10 billion oysters on more than 3,000 acres of oyster habitat in Maryland. Learn more about Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration efforts here. 

Tommy Price, [email protected], 410-990-4970