This spring, boaters from across Cape Cod can choose from six locations to recycle the plastic wrap that protects their boat in the off-season.
The Cape Cod shrink wrap recycling program reduces the amount of plastic entering our waste stream and saves valuable and limited space for non-recyclable materials. It is a partnership between Barnstable County’s Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, WHOI Sea Grant, Cape Cod AmeriCorps and the towns of Bourne, Dennis, Chatham, Eastham, Falmouth, and Wellfleet.
“We’re pleased to be able offer this program again this year and excited to add Falmouth as our sixth location,” says Kari Parcell, the regional waste reduction coordinator for Barnstable County’s Cape Cod Cooperative Extension. “We’re grateful to the towns and their staff for their time and willingness to cover the costs and serve as host locations for the program.”
The collections, which are located at the six towns’s transfer stations, run from April 1 to June 30. There is no fee or sticker required for residents to drop-off boat shrink wrap, but the wrap must be properly prepared for recycling or it will not be accepted. Collection locations, hours, and program information can be found at http://seagrant.whoi.edu/shrinkwrap.
Boat shrink wrap is low density polyethylene, or LDPE, and requires special processing. It 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 or risk being turned away.
“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 along with other information about how to prepare the wrap for recycling. The site also includes a video describing how to re-use shrink wrap for multiple seasons – something boaters may not know is possible and can save them money.
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.
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.