November 2005

Plastic boat wrap recycled

Concord, NH— In a pilot project for the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA) and Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC), 15 Ocean State marinas recycled 40,000 pounds of marine shrink wrap this year.

Plastic shrink wrap is used by owners to protect boats during winter storage. In the past 15 years shrink wrap has become the overwhelming material of choice to protect stored boats. Last year, about a million pounds of shrink wrap were sold in Rhode Island.

“The problem comes when shrink wrap is disposed of,” says Gerry DiSchino of the Hinckley Company, RIMTA’s president. “It’s bulky, it doesn’t pack well, it takes up a lot of room in the Central Landfill, and it doesn’t decompose. If it can be recycled, it has value. But until this year marinas have had few recycling options.”

Late in 2004 RIMTA and RIRRC got together to change that. Working with the Institution Recycling Network, a cooperative that recycles many different materials throughout New England, and with pilot funding provided by RIRRC, the two organizations set up a demonstration project to show that recycling can be easy, efficient, and cost-effective.

Early this spring, large, clear plastic recycling bags were distributed to 15 marinas throughout the state. The bags were big enough to hold the wrap from one or two boats, and most important they were made of a plastic that can be recycled along with shrink wrap.

As the marinas unwrapped boats in April and May, they stuffed the used shrink wrap into the recycling bags, cutting out any non-plastic items like vents and zippers that would contaminate the plastic when it was recycled. Once a week, IRN sent around a collection truck – a standard rear-loading trash truck – and picked up the bags of wrap from the marinas. The wrap was returned to a processing facility where it was packed into bales and sold to a manufacturer.

The manufacturer was Trex Company, which manufactures Trex® decking and railing, a leading brand of composite decking. It is a combination of recycled plastic and reclaimed wood that in addition to backyard decks is used to build docks at boatyards. So, the shrink wrap used at Rhode Island marinas will be returning to marinas in a long-lasting recycled product, and one that has the added benefit of replacing toxic pressure-treated wood.

Starting this fall, RIMTA will be encouraging all marinas in the state to participate in recycling shrink wrap as part of RIMTA’s Clean Marina Program. With over 100 marinas in Rhode Island, RIMTA hopes to collect at least 50 tons of shrink wrap when boats are wrapped this fall and unwrapped again in the spring.

Anyone who wants to find out more about the pilot project or get information about participating in 2005-2006 should contact RIRRC at 401-942-1430, or RIMTA at 401-615-5419.

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