Shrink-wrap Recycling Program

This program provides boaters and marina operators with a cost-effective, environmentally friendly option for disposal of shrink-wrap.

What is Shrink-wrap?

Shrink-wrap (Low-Density Polyethylene or LDPE) is commonly used for protecting recreational boats from snow, ice, water and debris when stored outside during the winter. In the shrink-wrapping process, plastic is draped over the boat, secured by strapping and heated, which shrinks the plastic. The wrap creates a rigid plastic surface, thereby providing a protective covering strong enough to hold the weight of snow and ice and protecting the boat from the elements. In the spring, shrink-wrap is removed and often ends up in landfills.

Preparing Shrink-wrap for Recycling

Proper preparation and storage of shrink-wrap is key to preventing problems with recycling machinery that shreds the plastic.

  • Step one: Remove strapping, lumber, nails, zippers and vents before packaging shrink-wrap for recycling. The doors and vents may be reusable next year.
  • Step two: Keep the shrink-wrap as clean as possible, free from gravel and sand.
  • Step three: Roll or bag the shrink-wrap, depending on your local program’s requirements.

Shrink-wrap Recycling Options in Michigan

The Michigan Clean Marina Program has been working with marinas to recycle plastic shrink-wrap since 2007. Various recycling programs are available throughout the state.

EZ-Fill Bag System

Bay Area Recycling for Charities (BARC) and Dr. Shrink, Inc. have partnered to assist marinas and boatyards in recycling shrink-wrap by creating an annual recycling run. Participants may enroll in the program by completing a Recycling Run Registration Form. Enrollees should bag shrink-wrap (free of strapping, zippers and vents) in pre-paid EZ-Fill Bags, sold by Dr. Shrink, Inc. Each bag costs $5.00, which covers the bag and fuel costs for to collect, transport, bale, and recycle plastic wrap. Note, this is cheaper than having it taken to the landfill. This partnership also supports the community, with a portion of proceeds going to charity. Pickup regions are all throughout Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Long Island, New York. See: Bay Area Recycling for Charities and Dr. Shrink, Inc.

Bulk Recycling Runs and Drop off Locations
Several drop off locations are available in Michigan. See: Recycling Run Map. Marina and boatyard operators can work directly with Bay Area Recycling for Charities (BARC) to set up a bulk recycling run. Please contact Andy Gale at (231) 884-3417 or andy@mybarc.org for more details.

County Recycling Services

Many counties in Michigan provide shrink-wrap recycling services. Contact your county’s waste management program to see if a program is available. Two examples:

  • Emmet County
    Emmet County accepts a variety of materials, including LDPE at the Emmet County Recycling Center in Harbor Springs. There are also 12 public recycling drop-off sites throughout Emmet County available to boaters able to bundle and fit their shrink-wrap into the bins provided. For more information, see Emmet County Recycling.
  • Washtenaw County
    Washtenaw County Shrink-wrap & Greenhouse Film Recycling Program provides recycling service for high- and low-density polyethylene, or #2 and #4 plastics. The public drop-off location is the Recycle Ann Arbor’s Drop-Off Station. For more information, see Washtenaw County Shrink-wrap & Greenhouse Film Recycling Program.

Other Public Drop-off Sites in Michigan

For more detailed information on public drop-off sites, including marinas accepting shrink-wrap, see Public Drop-off Sites.

 

If your marina or county is participating in a shrink-wrap recycling program and you’d like to be added to this webpage, please contact Amy Samples at (734) 647-0766 or asamples@umich.edu.

Shrinkwrapped boat - Emmet County Recycling

Stacked Bales - Emmet County Recycling

 

Program Impacts

  • Between 2007 and 2010 more than 50 Michigan marinas helped stop between 115,000 and 200,000 pounds of shrink-wrap from ending up in landfills each year.
  • Participating marinas reduced waste collection costs by $250-$700.
  • Approximately 15,000 pieces of plastics were manufactured from recycled shrink-wrap in 2007. These products include guardrail blocks and wheel chocks.