Clean Ocean Access (COA), a New England-based non-profit organization with a vision of a healthy ocean that is free of marine debris with water that is safe for all ocean activities and a shoreline that is accessible to the public, has announced a new recycling initiative in partnership with international recycling leader TerraCycle. Since February 2020, the program has successfully collected over 140,000 pounds of sailing and agricultural shrink-wrap for recycling.
Shrink-wrapping boats and greenhouses in preparation for winter is commonplace in the U.S., but recycling the shrink-wrap in the spring is now more challenging than ever. Historically, plastics of all kinds had been shipped overseas to be recycled, but today, the sailing and maritime community have begun to turn to Clean Ocean Access and TerraCycle’s Shrink-Wrap Recycling Project as a more local solution. This project aims to establish a U.S.-based recycling system, while also working with the marine industry to advance more circular solutions such as closed-loop recycling for shrink-wrap (where the recycled film can become new shrink-wrap) or increasing the use of reusable covers where possible.
Made possible through a grant from 11th Hour Racing, an organization that establishes strategic partnerships within the sailing and maritime communities to inspire solutions for the ocean, the Shrink-Wrap Recycling Project aims to prevent plastic film from entering landfills or incinerators by collecting the shrink-wrap from marinas, boatyards, vessel owners, and local agricultural operations, and transporting the material to TerraCycle in New Jersey.
After initial implementation in Rhode Island by engaging the marine industry and boating public, the long-term goal of this project is to leverage an established network of plastic recyclers and manufacturers with the potential to collect a larger variety of shrink-wrap.
“The Shrink-Wrap Recycling Project provides a time-sensitive opportunity to advance the existing efforts to collect plastic film, and bring awareness to the challenges and opportunities of creating a domestic circular economy, while having a laser focus on improving ocean health so future generations can enjoy ocean activities,” said Dave McLaughlin Co-Founder and Executive Director of Clean Ocean Access.
The Shrink-Wrap Recycling Project is COA’s latest addition to an existing repertoire of ocean-friendly initiatives including a beach cleanup volunteer program, environmental education events for children and a Marina Trash Skimmer project designed to leverage technology to remove debris found in marinas and harbors.
“By recycling boat shrink-wrap with Clean Ocean Access, TerraCycle is doing exactly what it was founded to do,” said Dylan Layfield, TerraCycle Senior Manager, Material Solutions. “By picking-up where conventional recycling leaves off, we’re ensuring that our shared waterways can be enjoyed by our children and our children’s children.”