The bill to give tax credits to restaurants and other businesses that recycle oyster shells moved on Tuesday after a unanimous vote by the Senate Finance Committee. overall, Conservation and Natural Resources.
The bill offers a $4 tax credit per box of shells and $1,500 per person.
The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. It still needs to be passed by both the House and the Senate, then it will go to the Gov. Glenn Youngkin to sign.
“Virginia’s many dedicated restaurants and businesses are already recycling shells and donating them to recycling programs,” said Julie Luecke, a Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Oyster Restoration Special. “The tax credit will reward these restaurants for their hard work and provide a valuable incentive to new businesses to increase the supply of oyster shells.”
The credit will make a difference because many restaurants are recovering from losses during the pandemic, said Todd Jurich, owner of Todd Jurich’s Bistro in Norfolk.
Jurich began reusing the shells about five years ago through the CBF program to reuse the shells to grow new oysters. His restaurant goes through about 500 oysters a week.
“Everything has a cost, storage and time to sort the shells, but it’s worth it,” he said. “I’ve had oysters from California to France. I’m a chef and I eat them.” , and the Chesapeake Bay produces oysters in the world.
Beyond the delicious taste, oysters are important to the bay because they clean the water and help create habitat for other species such as fish and crabs.
Baby oysters, or spats, like to live on hard surfaces, one of the best places being the shell of another oyster. Old shells are used to build reefs and shell spit is planted to grow oysters. Each recycled shell can house more than 10 oysters, and must be purchased by organic groups. The shortage has driven up the price. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission will take the recycled shells to be used for projects or the shells can be donated to a non-profit organization working on oyster restoration. .
Programs like CBF pick up shells from restaurants and businesses, then clean and process the shells.
Borrowers do not receive a tax for recycling shells, but there are several drop-off locations on Hampton Roads.
CBF is working to add 10 billion oysters to the bay by 2025.
Everett Eaton, 262-902-7896, email@example.com