Brewster Shell Recycle Program

Trash to Treasures

About the Program

The Brewster Department of Natural Resources (DNR) works with local restaurants and fish markets to establish a custom program that fits their needs and schedules. Businesses are responsible for collecting and storing the shells until pick-up. The Brewster DNR collects the shells, stores them to allow the sun to cure them, and then releases them to designated areas.


Shells are stored in direct sun for 6 months to one year before being released to designated areas. 


The goal of this program is to establish and maintain shellfish habitats through community cooperation and education. Our hope is to create a sustainable fishery that future generations will be able to enjoy.

 Benefits of Shell Recycling

  • Habitat– Healthy oyster beds and reefs create habitat for shellfish species, juvenile fish, invertebrates, and fin fish.
  • Nitrogen Reduction– Studies have shown that oysters can help remove nitrogen from the water through natural processes.
  • Erosion Control- Cultch sites help to reduce wave action by producing a natural barrier between sensitive coastal areas and surging waters.
  • Water Quality- As filter feeders, oysters remove plankton and algae from the water as they feed. Oysters are able to filter 50 gallons of water a day.
  • Economic Benefits- Oysters are an important resource for the local aquaculture industries, local businesses, and food supply to Cape Cod.
  • Cultch– Spat or baby oysters need a hard surface to settle and grow. Recycled shells are a perfect material to cultivate the next generation of oysters.


Local  restaurants such as the Brewster Fish House are participating in the Shell Recycling Program.

Restaurant Benefits:

  • Buckets/containers with lids provided, washed, and return
  • Pick-up schedules
  • Bulk waste reduction
  • Saving on disposal cost
  • Environmental stewardship

Local Support

The success of this program depends on the participation and cooperation of local restaurants and fish markets, recreational and commercial shell fishermen and women, and the Brewster DNR.


From left, Bud Johnson (Brewster FLATS volunteer), Ryan Burch (Shellfish Officer), and Enam Mensah (AmeriCorps volunteer) hold up shell recycling buckets donated by the Massachusetts Oyster Program

Volunteers Needed!!!

We are in need of volunteers from the community to help pick up and dispose of shells at the designated site. Your help is needed for a cleaner, healthier Cape Cod and a sustainably managed shellfish resource. Please call the Brewster DNR at 508-896-4546 or email Ryan Burch at or Chris Miller at

Special thanks to the Brewster Fish House, Bramble Inn, Ocean Edge, and Breakwater Seafood for participating in this program. We also thank the Massachusetts Oyster Project for donating buckets to this program. 


Thumbs up! Thank you Enam Mensah for starting this program in Brewster. 

Friends of Lands, Aquatics, Trails, and Shellfish