- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - An oyster shell recycling program aimed at restoring habitat for the bivalve is expanding.

The collaborative program says Harris Teeter will begin accepting shells at its 17 Virginia supermarkets starting Monday. Hampton’s Sam Rust Seafood will also participate in the program. The drop-off locations will stretch from Hampton Roads to Charlottesville.

The program is already actively recycling shells in other localities, including Richmond, Newport News and Lancaster County. In 2015 alone, more than 60,000 pounds of shells were collected.

Once the shells are cleaned, they are returned to the Chesapeake Bay to help with the restoration of a signature bay seafood. Oysters are critical to the bay’s restoration because of the prodigious amounts of water they filter.

The Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program is affiliated with VCU Rice Rivers Center.

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