This spring, the town of Falmouth will be accepting boat shrink wrap plastic at the town’s waste management facility as part of a recycling program run by WHOI Sea Grant and Barnstable County’ Cape Cod Cooperative Extension in partnership with municipalities across the Cape and Cape Cod AmeriCorps.
Falmouth joins the towns of Bourne, Dennis, Chatham, Eastham, and Wellfleet to provide a drop-off location for clean plastic boat shrink wrap between April 1 and the end of June. The Waste Management Facility is located at 458 Thomas B Landers Rd and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 7:45 am to 3 pm. There is no fee or sticker required for residents to drop-off boat shrink wrap.
“I’m very pleased that Falmouth DPW is adding boat shrink wrap to the growing list of ‘hard to recycle’ items accepted at our waste management facility,” says Mary Ryther, the Town of Falmouth’s recycling and solid waste coordinator. “Joining this program directly benefits Falmouth because it will reduce the amount of this bulky material sent to the Bourne landfill, saving valuable and limited space for non-recyclable materials.”
The Cape Cod boat shrink wrap program allows residents to recycle the boat shrink wrap (low density polyethylene or LDPE) at no cost as long as it is free from any non-shrink wrap material. Boat shrink wrap requires special processing and cannot be put into curbside recycling carts and bins.
The plastic strapping, vents or zippered doors often used when shrink wrapping boats are not made of LDPE plastic and are considered contamination by recyclers. Residents should make sure their wrap is free of these items before bringing it to the town waste management facility.
“Strapping, ropes and other non-shrink wrap materials can cause problems when we take the material to the recycler,” says Stephanie Murphy of WHOI Sea Grant. “The good news is there’s an easy method for removing the wrap from the boat that removes the strapping and other contaminants in the process. This is done by cutting the plastic around the belly of the boat: the straps fall away and the plastic can then be folded and rolled for recycling.”
A how-to video is available on the WHOI Sea Grant website. The site also includes a video describing how to re-use shrink wrap for multiple seasons – something boaters may not know is possible. The information is at http://seagrant.whoi.edu/shrinkwrap.
In 2022, the Cape Cod shrink wrap recycling partnership collected and recycled 5.5 tons of shrink wrap. A materials recycling facility (MRF) operated by Republic Services in Brockton baled the wrap and sold it on the commodities market. The costs for transporting the material to the MRF and the recycling fees were paid by the participating towns.
“A special thank you goes out to the six Cape towns and their staff for their time and willingness to cover the costs and serve as host locations for the program,” says Kari Parcell, the regional waste reduction coordinator for Barnstable County’s Cape Cod Cooperative Extension. “We’re excited that Falmouth has joined the program this year, helping us save limited landfill space by recycling what is essentially single-use plastic.”
For more information about recycling opportunities at the Falmouth WMF, see Falmouthma.gov/1254/Bulky-Hard-To-Recycle-Materials.
More information about the Cape Cod Shrink Wrap Recycling Program is available at http://seagrant.whoi.edu/shrinkwrap.