Leelanau News and Events

Boaters Can Recycle Marine Shrink-Wrap With Program Unique To Michigan

By Emily Tyra | March 11, 2022

To help keep plastic out of landfills throughout the state, the Michigan Recycling Coalition, Dr. Shrink, EGLE, Bay Area Recycling for Charities and Emmet County Recycling have partnered to recycle boat shrink-wrap into something new.

You know the stuff: the white or blue plastic film is used to insulate and protect boats for winter storage and for a variety of agricultural uses.

Michigan is unique, as huge quantities of waste plastic film are produced here due to both a prosperous boating industry, and a 100-billion-dollar agricultural economy with over 47,000 farms, shares Katie Fournier, project coordinator Michigan Recycling Coalition (MRC).

Film plastics are not biodegradable and contribute significant mass to our landfills, she says.

The 2022 Recycling Run is the official collection program for boat covers in Michigan, and the nonprofit partners invite marinas, boat dealers, and individuals across the state to participate.

Here is the drill: Purchase recycling bag(s) for $7 at Dr. Shrink, register with MRC, stuff the used plastic into the bag and deliver it to a registered drop-off location (locally, Bay Area Recycling for Charities in Kaleva and Traverse City).

Dr. Shrink, a global shrink wrap supplier based in Manistee, custom-makes the bags strictly for the Recycling Run program, which is only available in Michigan. The industrial, large-mouth bags hold covers from up to a 32’ boat or approximately 850 square feet of plastic.

Fournier stresses that the $7 recycing bag is a one-time fee that includes the cost to collect, transport, bale and recycle; however purchasing the bags does not register you for the program. To be put on the bag pickup list at your local drop-off, you must sign and email kfournier@michiganrecycles.org the registration form by June 1.

The used boat covers are later picked up and tuned into alternative products. Recycled plastics from this program are used by manufacturer TREX decking to create composite decking.

For every boat cover recycled, there is a savings of 115Kwh of energy, 13.5 gallons of oil, and 16 to 20 cubic feet of landfill space.

Bay Area Recycling for Charities notes on its social media platforms that because of this program "the Northwest part of the state has some of the highest recycling rates for boat shrink wrap in the Great Lakes Region."

Fournier shares that this will be the 11th year the Recycle Run has collected marine plastic, noting, “we really were not able to scale up the program until the last couple of years when we received a grant from the Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. Now we are very excited to see the program become accessible statewide.”

For more information visit Michigan Recycling Coalition. Those with questions or comments can contact Fournier at MRC.

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