MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources collects used oyster shells from restaurants around the state and uses them to rebuild oyster beds along the coast, however, just one restaurant in Horry County participates in the program.

Dirty Don’s Oyster Bar and Grill on 21st Ave. N. in Myrtle Beach recycles all of their old oyster shells through SCDNR by storing them in a large trailer behind their restaurant. According to DNR, last year the restaurant recycled around 54,000 shells through their program.

“We just know that it’s a really good idea for agriculture and the oysters themselves,” says Martin Burke, Kitchen manager at Dirty Don’s.

DNR developed the program in 2000 to cut back on having to purchase so many shells from out-of-state when it came time to restore oyster beds in South Carolina.

“It is the definition of sustainability. You put the shell back out, and the new oyster grows on that to be harvested again. You complete the cycle by recycling your shells,” says SCDNR Wildlife Biologist, Trent Austin.

While the program helps provide a habitat for juvenile oysters to grow, Dirty Don’s says it also helps the restaurant save money in the long run.

“If we have oysters shipped from out-of-state, they’re very costly, so the more we recycle, the better the cost is for the locals around here for purchasing oysters,” says Burke.

Dirty Don’s is the only restaurant in Horry County that participates in the program, however, DNR has tried to involve other local restaurants, but say many may not have the time or space for an extra dumpster to store the shells.

SCDNR encourages the public to recycle their used oyster shells at their three public drop-off sites in Horry County. One bin is located in North Myrtle Beach at Platt’s Seafood, the second is located in Myrtle Beach on 21st Ave. North, and the third is at the Surfside Beach Fire Department. For more details, click here.