Another restaurant oyster shell recycling initiative pops up in Alabama
A few weeks after we told you about restaurateurs around Chesapeake Bay taking part in an oyster shell recycling program, another oyster recycling initiative has sprung up with restaurants in Alabama, according to a news release.
This initiative -- the Alabama Oyster Shell Recycling program -- is funded through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It brings together 28 restaurants in the Alabama area, with the Alabama Coastal Foundation and waste services company, Republic Services. Together, these parties save, process and return oyster shells to the sea, sustaining the industry in Alabama and helping the overall Gulf of Mexico fishing industry.
"The Alabama Coastal Foundation uses an inclusive, environmental stewardship approach to accomplish our work," Alabama Coastal Foundation Executive Director Mark Berte, said in a news release.
The initiative expects to add other restaurant participants in the future, who -- like the 28 brands already involved -- commit to contribute leftover oyster shells from their restaurants three times each week. Shells are then cured at the Alabama Marine Resources Division, and finally deposited in designated locations along the Alabama coast. Oyster shells are critical to helping the shellfish live and reproduce in our ocean waters since they are used as the foundation for new oyster beds.
The Gulf Coast is credited with providing more than 40 percent of the seafood consumed nationwide. Likewise, as we told you in the report on the Chesapeake Bay area restaurant shell recycling program, oysters are essential to our entire ecosystem since they are kind of like the oceans' water treatment plants in that a single adult oyster purifies about 15 gallons of water daily.
Aside from that, oyster beds are important elements in controlling the rate of coastal erosion and providing habitat for other ocean and ocean-dependent animals, including humans. Although Alabama's program just began, it has already collected more than 2 million oyster shells.