NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Dave McLaughlin, the executive director of Clean Ocean Access, is hoping to change the course of recycling in the boating industry.
Shrink-wrap used to protect boats in the off-season is often thrown away, but he said there’s a better way to handle this issue.
“Part of the program we are trying to do, is to pilot a small program to subsidize the cost of reusable boat covers,” McLaughlin said.
The program is a partnership between Clean Ocean Access and recycling leader TerraCycle.
Since February, 140,000 pounds of sailing and agricultural shrink wrap have already been collected. Under this arrangement, plastics are recycled in New Jersey instead of going overseas.
Project coordinator Max Kraimer said keeping it domestic makes for much smoother sailing.
“In 2017, China actually banned the importation of plastics, so projects like this to show that U.S. plastics can be recycled in the U.S. is really crucial in the next steps for the recycling industry,” Kraimer said.
Kraimer said this is nothing new. Americans are already doing this when recycling plastic bags in those bins at the grocery store.
“When you think about the same material, in a different shape and form, it’s the same material as a plastic bag, a bread bag, it’s all low material density Polyethylene,” he said.
For boats, McLaughlin understands the convenience of one-time use shrink-wrap.
But reusable wrap could pay off in the long run, like solar panels or other sustainable products.
“Not everyone can relate to shrink-wrapping a boat, but people can relate to the fact that maybe 10 years ago they used a single-use water bottle and today they have a reusable bottle,” McLaughlin said.