Why Compost and Why Oyster Shells?
Earth Matter NY operates the BOP Shell Collection Program in order to supply BOP with oyster shells generated and collected from many restaurant and event partners in New York City. This oyster shell recovery initiative reinforces Earth Matter’s mission on raising New Yorkers’ awareness on urban ecology, circular economy, and the importance of individual responsibilities for taking care of our planet. The oyster shell collection program aims to become part of Earth Matter’s ongoing educational dialogue with citizens about the concept of zero waste and the close loop of organic materials, where all organic waste is simply a link among other interconnected ecological processes.
The BOP Oyster Shell Life Cycle
Thanks to the Billion Oyster Project and the Oyster Shell Collection Program, 400 cubic yards of oyster shell will go back to the water closing the oyster shell cycle. The cycle starts when our partner restaurants shuck fresh farmed oysters for their customers, separating the flat top shell from the bottom shell. After eating an oyster, we leave the calcium carbonate bottom shell in the plate. Then participating restaurants sort both top and bottom shell from other organic waste and save them in specific bins. The Shell Collection Programs collects and transports full bins to a curing site in Staten Island where the oyster shell is dumped and stored outside for a year. After 12 months curing the shell under all kind of weather conditions, all flesh and bacteria are removed from it and the Shell Collection Program provides the Billion Oyster Project with cured shell ready to be seeded. In this second part of the cycle, The Billion Oyster Project spawns live oysters and seeds the cured shell with oyster larvae. Spat-on-shell will grow in different floating nurseries and dockside oyster gardens throughout NY Harbor and, finally, adult oyster clusters will be planted in five experimental reef restoration sites where they will continue reproducing and cleaning the water.
One live oyster is capable of filtering 50 gallons of water in one day. One dozen oysters eaten at one of the many BOP partner restaurants can result in the filtration of over eight million gallons of New York Harbor water in one year. Imagine what one billion oysters could do!
New Yorkers eat up to half a million oysters in local restaurants every week. Now, thanks to the BOP Shell Collection Program, “many tones of shells will be recovered, cured, and reused to grow new live oysters – up to 20 per saved shell! – build estuary habitat, and improve the quality of our Harbor and our City.
Check out our BOP Restaurant Partner map!
Shell Collection Program Supporters
The Shell Collection Program is funded by the New York Harbor Foundation through multiple grants, fundraisers, and the invaluable support of:
Shell Collection Program Updates
Shell Program Updates by Alberto Carreras 2016 has been a shellarious year! First, we accomplished all our milestones. Sixty restaurants partners helped us add 360,000 pounds of shells to our curing site reaching a total of 500 cy. The program also partnered with...
This July, we opened the Earth Matter Shell Educational Center on Buttermilk Channel (near the Brooklyn ferry landing). It is open on Saturdays from 12-4 pm. Come and learn more about how NY Harbor School students used reclaimed oyster shells for reef ecosystem...