Oyster Recycling and Restoration Program

oyster recycling

Why Should I Recycle My Oyster Shell?

Although South Carolina's commercial shellfish harvest has remained stable over the past three decades, the closing of oyster canneries and most shucking houses during this period has resulted in a shortage of shucked oyster shell needed to cultivate and restore oyster beds. The increasing popularity of backyard oyster roasts and by-the-bushel retail sales have contributed to this shortage in that, contrary to the shucking houses and canneries, shells remaining from individual oyster roasts are not usually returned to the estuary to provide a suitable surface to attract juvenile oysters. More often than not, the shell ends up in driveways and landfills.

These factors have contributed to the critical shortage of oyster shell used for planting purposes and sustaining oyster habitat. The state has been forced to purchase the majority of its oyster shell from out-of-state processors to supplement our stocks of shell for planting. In order for SCDNR to properly manage the state's shellfish resources and maintain these critical habitats, we must continue to maximize our efforts to recycle our oyster shells. Recycling your shells will help restore, preserve, and enhance the state's inshore marine habitat.

Oysters - A seafood delicacy and:

A Harvestable & Renewable Resource: Each year tens of thousands of bushels are harvested recreationally and commercially.

Estuarine Filters: Adult oysters filter up to 2.5 gallons of water per hour or up to 50 gallons per day.

Habitat: Oysters build reefs which provide habitat for fish, shrimp, crabs, and other animals. They are an integral part of the marine ecosystem. There are 70 different species that frequent oyster reefs, including; Red Drum, Blue Crabs, Flounder, and Shrimp.

Erosion Control: Oyster reefs are natural breakwaters that absorb wave energy and protect marsh shorelines from erosion.

Planting Oyster Shell

How does this process work?

During the summer months, oysters spawn and release free-swimming larvae, called spat, into the water column. The spat are carried by tide and current and after spending about two weeks moving in the water column, seek a suitable surface upon which to attach and begin building their shells of calcium carbonate. Unless disturbed, they will spend the remainder of their life cycle where they have attached. Centuries of oyster cultivation experience have proven oyster shell to be one of most desirable materials (called cultch) for attachment and subsequent growth of young oysters. Other cultch materials, such as shucked whelk shell and wooden stakes have been very successful in attracting and supporting oyster spat.

Your license recycles!

Each year, oyster shell used for planting public shellfish grounds has become increasingly expensive and hard to find. A SCDNR project, funded by the revenue generated by Saltwater Recreational Fishing License sales, makes it possible to recycle oyster shell and reclaim this valuable resource to enhance shellfish habitat. As this conservation initiative gains public awareness and participation, it is hoped that increased volumes of oyster shell will be made available for planting Public Shellfish Grounds by SCDNR personnel and equipment and by contract with private companies to improve recreational shellfish harvesting opportunities for the public.

Recycling Do's and Don'ts

  • DO separate shell from trash. Shell mixed with trash is not suitable for recycling. Provide separate containers for shell and trash.
  • DO dump shells from bags or containers and leave only shells in the bins.
  • DO bring your shell to the nearest shell recycling center. Maps are provided below. If a center is not shown near you, please call 843-953-9397.
  • DON'T put live oysters in South Carolina waters. If the oysters you purchased were harvested outside South Carolina, it is illegal to place them in SC waters. Placing imported oysters in our waters can create environmental problems and may harm local oysters or other animals.
  • DON'T put freshly shucked oysters shell in SC waters. To avoid contamination, shell should be recycled to DNR and properly quarantined for 6 months.

Oyster Shell Drop-Off Locations

Oyster Recycling Public Drop-Off SitesWith the cooperation of local and county governments and businesses in coastal South Carolina, oyster shell recycling drop-off sites (PDF) (places where the public can bring their oyster shells) have been established in convenient locations. Location of sites are: Click on the maps below to bring up Adobe PDF file and a larger view. Maps are from 245 KB - 477 KB in file size. The drop-off locations are listed by County from North to South.

Darlington County
Myrtle Beach Bin @ Shucker’s Raw Bar Hartsville Bin at Kalmia Gardens (Adobe PDF)
From downtown Hartsville take Carolina Ave. west towards Hwy151. As the road forks, keep to the right and the entrance to Kalmia Gardens will be on the right. Pull in the gate and continue forward and you will see the wooden oyster recycle bin on your left. From 151 turn onto West Carolina Avenue. Travel approximately 1 mile and the garden entrance will be on the left. Enter through gate and travel straight back. The wooden oyster bin will be on your left.
Florence County
Myrtle Beach Bin @ Shucker’s Raw Bar Florence Bin (Adobe PDF)
Leaving from downtown Florence take South Irby Street to Pamplico Highway. Stay on Pamplico Hwy for 8 miles and end at 5911 Pamplico Hwy Florence, SC 29505. The location is a business Thompson Logistics. The bin is at the back of the property to the left of the building and is a three sided cattle pin style bin. There is 24/7 access to the bin.
Horry County
Myrtle Beach Bin @ Shucker’s Raw Bar N. Myrtle Beach Bin at Platt’s Seafood (Adobe PDF)
Take Hwy 17 N, turn right onto Sea Mountain Hwy (65/9). Platt’s Seafood is 0.4 miles on the left. Bin is a DNR trailer in parking lot. Address: 1108 Sea Mountain Hwy #1.
Myrtle Beach Bin @ Shucker’s Raw Bar Myrtle Beach Bin on 21st Ave N. (Adobe PDF)
At Hwy 17 and 21st Ave N intersection turn North onto 21st Ave N (headed away from beach) in between Nascar Sports Grill and Phillips Seafood Market. The bin is the first right just past Nascar Sport Grill parking lot down a dirt road.
Myrtle Beach Bin @ Shucker’s Raw Bar Conway Bin at Fisherman’s Headquarters (Adobe PDF)
Address: 3414 Hwy 701 S. Conway, SC 29527 Bin is DNR trailer located in parking lot.
Georgetown County
Murrells Inlet Bin @ Garden City Fire Dept. Murrells Inlet Bin at Garden City Fire Dept. (Adobe PDF)
From Georgetown take US 17 N. Bear right onto Murrells Inlet US 17 Bus. Fire Station is 3.80 miles on the right. From Myrtle Beach take Myrtle Beach US 17 South to Murrells Inlet. Turn left onto US 17 Bus. Murrells Inlet. Fire station is 0.8 miles on the left. Trailer is behind fire station.
Murrells Inlet Bin @ Clambank Landing Murrell’s Inlet Bin at Clambank Landing (Adobe PDF)
From Litchfield, take U.S. Highway 17 N toward Myrtle Beach. Approximately 1.26 miles north of Brookgreen Gardens entrance turn right on to dirt road marked "Oyster Shell Recycling".
Georgetown Bin @ Waccamaw River Bridge Georgetown Bin at Waccamaw River Bridge (Adobe PDF)
Take Highway 17 North through Georgetown. Before the Waccamaw river bridge, turn left toward the Winyah Bay Fishing and Observation pier.  Shell recycling drop off site is located approximately 0.3 miles on right.  Look for blue recycling signs.
Berkley County
Goose Creek Bin @ Gilligan’s Restaurant Goose Creek Bin at Gilligan’s Restaurant (Adobe PDF)
Address 219 St. James Ave.  Goose Creek, SC.  Coming from I-26 head north on Highway 52. Take a left onto Highway 176. Travel approximately one mile and you will see Gilligans on your left. Take a left at the light onto Bridgetown Rd. and then another left onto St. James Ave. and into the Gilligans parking lot.  The recycling bin is a DNR trailer in the back corner of the parking lot. This recycling location is available seasonally from September 15 to April 30.
Dorchester County
Ladson Bin @ Jessen Boat Landing Ladson Bin at Jessen Boat Landing (Adobe PDF)
Take 642/Drochester Rd. N. Turn left onto Ladson Rd. Follow Ladson Rd. for 0.6 miles. Enter Jessen Landing. Drop-off site is to the right near the fence of the parking lot as you enter.
Charleston County
McClellanville Bin @ The Town Hall McClellanville Bin at The Town Hall (Adobe PDF)
Take US 17 N. to McClellanville. Turn right onto 45/S. Pickney St. Merge onto Pickney St. Turn right at town hall. Drop-off site is on the right near the fire tower.
Awendaw Bin @ Garris/Moores Boat Landing Awendaw Bin at Garris/Moores Boat Landing (Adobe PDF)
Take US 17 N. toward Awendaw. Turn right on Seewee Rd. for 3.5 miles. Turn right on Bulls Island Rd and follow to the end. Drop-off site is in the left back corner of the parking lot near the restroom area.
Mt. Pleasant Bin on Sweet Grass Basket Pkwy Mt. Pleasant Bin on Sweet Grass Basket Pkwy (Adobe PDF)
From Mt. Pleasant, Highway 17 N turn right on Isle of Palms Connector/SC-517S after Mount Pleasant Towne Center. After 0.2 miles on IOP Connector, left to Sweetgrass Basket Pkwy. Travel 0.6 miles on Pkwy before taking right into Mount Pleasant Recycling/Maintenance Center. Take immediate left on gravel rd. to oyster recycling 0.1 miles down.
Mt. Pleasant Bin @ Red’s Ice House Mt. Pleasant Bin at Red’s Ice House (Adobe PDF)
From downtown Charleston cross over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge towards Mt. Pleasant. Stay right and take the Coleman Blvd. exit. After the first traffic light past the bridge travel 1.14 miles and take a right at the traffic light onto Mill St. Go straight until you dead end into a gravel parking lot. The recycle bin is a DNR trailer in the back of the parking lot next to the dumpster. This recycling location is available seasonally from September 15 to April 30.
West Ashley Bin @ Charleston Outdoor Catering West Ashley Bin at Charleston Outdoor Catering (Adobe PDF)
Leaving Charleston, take Highway 61( St. Andrews Blvd.)  Approximately 1.8 miles from the Ashley River Bridges, a Recycling Drop Off trailer is located approximately 0.2 on the right hand side of the road-before the fork of 171 and 61. 1000 St. Andrews Blvd.  (Charleston Outdoor Catering-Jamie Westerndorf) 769-6889
James Isl. Bin @ Sol Legare Boat Landing James Isl. Bin at Sol Legare Boat Landing (Adobe PDF)
Take Highway 171(Folly Rd) toward Folly Beach. Approximately 2.3 mile from Ft. Johnson road, turn right onto Sol Legare' Rd and follow the road 2.5 miles down to the end –Battery Island Boat Landing. Drop off site is on left.
James Isl. Bin @ SCDNR on Ft. Johnson Rd. James Isl. Bin at SCDNR on Ft. Johnson Rd. (Adobe PDF)
From Charleston take US 17 (Savannah Hwy) South. Turn left of 171 (Folly Rd.) for 4.5 miles. Turn left onto Fort Johnson Rd for 4.8 miles. Enter the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources gate and continue on main road and follow the oyster drop-off sign. The drop-off site is in the back of the grass field with a trailer and sign.
Johns Isl. Bin @ Gilligan’s Restaurant Johns Isl. Bin at Gilligan’s Restaurant (Adobe PDF)
From Johns Island take Main Road toward Highway 17. Gilligan’s is 1.4 miles after the Main Rd./River Rd. traffic light, on the left.  Or from West Ashley, take Highway 17 South. Take a left at Main Rd. going towards Johns Island. Gilligan’s is 0.23 miles on the right. The recycling bin is a DNR trailer that is located behind the restaurant. This recycling location is available seasonally from September 15 to April 30.
Wadmalaw Isl. Bin @ Bears Bluff Fish Hatchery Wadmalaw Isl. Bin at Bears Bluff Fish Hatchery (Adobe PDF)
Coming from Johns Island take Maybank Hwy toward Wadmalaw Island. After you cross over Main Rd. travel approximately 2.8 miles till the road fork and bear to the right onto Bears Bluff Rd. Follow Bears Bluff Rd. another 9 miles till it dead ends into the Bears Bluff Marine Fish Hatchery. Go through the main gate and turn right. Go through a fenced gate and take your first left after the fenced gate. The recycling bin will be just down this road.
Kiawah Bin @ Mingo Point Kiawah Bin at Mingo Point (Adobe PDF)
From Johns Island take Main Rd. toward Kiawah and Seabrook. Take the round-about toward Kiawah. After the round-about travel 1.6 miles and take a right into Mingo point (there is a sign for Mingo Point). The recycling bin is a DNR trailer that is in the parking lot to the right. If you get to Kiawah’s main gate you have gone to far.
Edisto Island Bin Edisto Island Bin (Adobe PDF)
Take Highway 174 toward Edisto Beach State Park. Approximately 12.1 miles from the Dawhoo Bridge there is a recycling center on left or 0.8 miles from the beach on right. Look for blue recycling signs.
Colleton County
Edisto Island Bin Walterboro Bin at the Beltline Recycling Center (Adobe PDF)
The Walterboro Bin is located at the Beltline Convenience and Recycling Center which is located on Robertson Blvd (Walterboro Bypass) just 0.3 miles north of the Colleton Middle School near the airport runway. The bin is located in far left corner of the facility right when you pull in.
Beaufort County
Beaufort Bin @ Beaufort County Public Works Beaufort Bin at Beaufort County Public Works (Adobe PDF)
On Highway 21 Heading north from Beaufort, turn left onto Shanklin road. Shanklin road is approximately 0.6 miles north of the Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station Main Gate. Follow Shanklin road for 0.75 miles to Beaufort County Public Works Department. Turn right into solid waste recycling center. Ask attendant for key and directions to shell recycling drop-off. Hours of operation: 7AM to 7PM seven days per week.
Port Royal Bin @ Sands Beach Boat Landing Bluffton Bin at Trask Landing (Adobe PDF)
Off 278 take Sawmill Creek Rd. which is .85 miles down from Bluffton Rd. Trask Landing is at the end of Sawmill Creek Rd. (3.6 mi). The recycling bin is a DNR trailer. This recycling location is available seasonally from September 15 to April 30.
Port Royal Bin @ Sands Beach Boat Landing Port Royal Bin at Sands Beach Boat Landing (Adobe PDF)
Take Ribaut Road (SC Highway 802) west Towards Port Royal and Parris Island approximately 4.0 miles. Turn left onto Paris Ave. for 0.7 miles, then left behind Port Royal Town Hall onto 7th Street. At stop sign, go straight across onto Sands Beach Rd. Shell recycling drop-off is 0.3 miles on the left.
Hunting Isl. Bin @ Russ Point Hunting Isl. Bin at Russ Point (Adobe PDF)
Highway 21 south from Beaufort 16 miles to Hunting Island. Before Bridge to Fripp Island turn right onto county dirt road. Shell recycling drop-off is 0.3 Miles on left.
St. Helena / Lady’s Island Bin St. Helena / Lady’s Island Bin (Adobe PDF)
From Downtown Beaufort take the Sea Island Parkway and cross over the Beaufort River towards Lady’s Island and Frogmore. Once across the river from the end of the bridge go approximately 4.5 miles to the St. Helena Recycling and Convenience Center. Take a left into the recycling center. The bin is a wooden three sided bin on the right before you get to the main drop off area.

The SCDNR would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the following companies and organizations for their support in this effort so far:

  • Abe’s Oyster House
  • ACE Basin Field Station
  • ACE Basin/Donnelly WMA
  • Augie Hamlin
  • Beaufort County Department
    of Public Works
  • Belle W. Baruch Institute/Hobcaw Barony
  • Carolina Seafoods, Inc.
  • Charleston Bay Catering
  • Charleston County Parks & Recreation
  • Charleston Outdoor Catering
  • Charleston Restaurant Association
  • Coastal Caterers
  • Coastal Conservation Association
  • Edisto State Park
  • Fisher Recycling
  • Gilligan’s Steamer and Raw Bar
  • Georgetown County Recreation
    & Leisure
  • Kiawah Island Recycling Dept.
  • Leadership Colleton
  • Locklear’s Restaurant
  • Morgan Creek Grill
  • The Nature Concervancy
  • Red’s Ice House
  • Salter Waters Restaurant
  • South Carolina Parks, Recreation
    and Tourism
  • Sticky Fingers Restaurant
  • Sullivan’s Island Fire Dept.
  • Thompson Logistics LLC
  • Tide Water Catering
  • Town of Mount Pleasant
  • Town of McClellanville
  • Town of Port Royal
  • USFW Bears Bluff Fish Hatchery
  • USFW Garris Landing Field Station




Related Links

The Oyster Shell Recycling Program coordinates with oyster roast caterers and local restaurants to pick up larger quantities of shucked shell when practical to add to the DNR stockpiles.

For further information about oyster shell recycling, please call Ben Dyar, Oyster Shell Recycling Program Coordinator; (843) 953-9397 or Frank Bell, Program Assistant (843) 953-9398 you may contact the Program by e-mail at dyarb@dnr.sc.gov or bellf@dnr.sc.gov.

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