Wellfleet Recycling Program Making Reefs from Oyster Shells

WELLFLEET – A Wellfleet recycling program aims to help cut back on wasted oyster shells as residents and travelers alike dine at local restaurants this summer.

The Massachusetts Oyster Project has launched its summer 2021 Oyster Shell Recycling Program with eight restaurants on board and funding support from 11th Hour Racing. 

The program runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day and diverts oyster shells from restaurants’ regular trash to special containers instead.

Oyster Project staff and volunteers collect the containers four times a week and bring them to a special collection site managed by the Town of Wellfleet’s Shellfish Department and Transfer Station. 

After aging for a year, the shells are spread around Wellfleet Harbor to create juvenile oyster habitats. 

The eight restaurants onboard include The Beachcomber, Pearl, Mac’s Seafood Shack, Winslow’s Tavern, The Wicked Oyster, Moby Dick’s, CShore and Van Rensselaer’s. 

“We’re excited to launch this program, which is a key part of our mission to restore the beaches and shores of Massachusetts,” said Massachusetts Oyster Project President Sarah Valencik.

“We are working with local partners to keep oyster shells out of landfills. At the end of the day, these shells will help build reefs along the shores of Cape Cod.”

Officials from the program said that wild oysters grow naturally in clusters, and that the best surface for baby oysters is other oyster shells. 

The shells will help form low-profile reefs that will allow oysters to grow over about three years, at which point they reach legal harvest size.

Program officials also said that oysters can purify up to 50 gallons of water a day, on top of protecting the Cape’s shorelines from erosion. 

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the CapeCod.com News Center in 2019.

737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
Contact Us | Advertise Terms of Use 
Employment and EEO | Privacy