BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City’s recycling center on Sisson Street started taking in oyster shells last spring.

Six months later, thousands of those shells are now headed from dinner tables back to the Chesapeake Bay, Alex DeMetrick reports.

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“So far so good,” said Jeffrey Raymond, a Department of Public Works spokesman. “We’ve collected about 500 pounds of shells so far.”

That works out to about 3,500.

Recycling what’s left of a favorite Maryland delicacy has been going on at area restaurants for a few years, but now, those who shuck at home are participating as well.

“For residents who enjoy eating oysters and want to take advantage of recycling them as opposed to just throwing them away in the trash,” according to Raymond.

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The shells go to the University of Maryland’s Horn Point lab, where baby oysters called “spat” are attached. Those are then planted on either sanctuary bars off-limits to fishing, or public bars where watermen can harvest them once they grow to a legal size.

Recycling shells does more than keep oysters in the food chain, says David Blazer, of the Department of Natural Resources Fisheries.

“The more oysters you have, the better habitat you have. They also filter the water. They’re a good cleansing organism for the bay.”

This year alone, the University of Maryland has planted one billion spat in recycled oyster shells.

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