Oyster-loving Central Virginians will be able to join oyster-serving restaurants in recycling the shells of the salt-water mollusks to propagate bivalves in the Chesapeake Bay when the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority opens a shucked shell collection point.
The solid waste authority will hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony with officials from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Rice Rivers Center at the McIntire Recycling Center. The center’s new drop-off point supports a state-wide recycling program that began in 2013. The Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling and Restoration Program collects shucked shells from 50 restaurants and 30 public drop-off locations in Charlottesville, Richmond, Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and the Northern Neck.
The shells will give baby oysters — called spats — a place to attach and grow. The shells will be cured and placed in huge water tanks containing millions of the microscopic oyster larvae called spats that attach themselves to the shells.
“Once the container is filled, we haul it to our VCU Rice Rivers Center to cure for 12 months before it is sleeved into a mesh ‘sausage’ and freighted to our spat setting location on Gwynn’s Island in Mathews County,” said Todd Janeski, director of the recycling program. “We then place 200 to 250 bags of shells into tanks and introduce swimming oyster larvae to attach to the shell.”