Boaters living in two Maryland counties, along with marinas and boatyards, can recycle the large volume of plastic shrink wrap used in winter boat storage. Image: Cheryl Costello

Maryland Expands Boat Shrink Wrap Recycling Program

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Marine Trades Association of Maryland have been steadily pushing for more boaters to recycle the shrink wrap used during winter boat storage—instead of trashing it.

For several years, the DNR Clean Marina Initiative and Marine Trades have offered programs for marinas to recycle used shrink wrap. Last year, they experimented with offering recycling for individuals in one Queen Anne’s County location. This year, they’ve expanded the recycling program to individual boaters in several locations across two Maryland counties.

Boaters in both Queen Anne’s and Anne Arundel counties can go to certain locations and pick up a recycling bag (the bag is required in order to recycle these materials).

In Queen Anne’s, residents can pick up a recycling bag for free, courtesy of the Queen Anne’s County Commission, from these locations:

  • West Marine store in Chester; 
  • Rommel’s Ace Hardware in Stevensville;
  • Refill Goodness in Stevensville; and
  • Centreville Town Hall. 

In Anne Arundel County, residents can buy a recycling bag for $15 at:

  •  West Marine Stores in Annapolis, Edgewater, Tracy’s Landing, or Glen Burnie; and
  • Fawcett’s Boating Supplies in Annapolis. 

The cost of the bag covers the needed dumpsters, hauling, baling, and recycling the material, DNR says.

When you pick up a recycling bag, it will come with detailed instructions on how to bundle the wrap properly and where to take it for recycling. The shrink wrap must have all straps, bands, zippers, doors and vents removed. If even one is left on, it would contaminate the whole load.

Since boat shrink wrap is not accepted as curbside recyclables in Maryland, you must take the bundle to special dumpsters provided (three in Anne Arundel County and one in Queen Anne’s). Bags are available (while supplies last) until May 31 at the listed locations.

While it may seem like a lot of effort to recycle just one set of shrink wrap, the effort can add up when many Marylanders participate. Last year, the program collected and recycled 65,000 pounds of used shrink wrap.

The expansion is coordinated in partnership with the Queen Anne’s County Commission, the Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works, Plastic Free Queen Anne’s County, West Marine, and Fawcett’s Boat Supplies. 

If you’d like to help the planet, but don’t want to mess with recycling bags, consider using a reusable cover next fall when you winterize your boat, DNR says. They’ve been running a “Think Before You Shrink” campaign for several seasons now.

“Reusable covers last for many years and, in most cases, compare to the cost of having the boat professionally shrink wrapped two or three times,” the Clean Marina Program points out. It can eliminate tons of single-use plastic waste.

Marinas continue to participate in the recycling program, too. In a Chesapeake Bay Magazine story last year, Cedar Point Marina General Manager Jake Boulay made recycling the wrap look easy:

 Marinas and boatyards can also buy bags for $15 that hold up to 40 pounds of clean shrink wrap, recommended for boats up to 35 feet.

Learn more about the program for both individuals and marinas and find recycling instructions at the DNR Clean Marina website.