TRENTON, New Jersey, April 14, 2008 (ENS) – Municipalities and counties are collecting and recycling hundreds of tons of plastic covering used to protect boats from winter weather under a new program introduced by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson.

“While shrink-wrap is a cost-effective and convenient way to protect boats from the elements, it presents a serious waste disposal challenge because the plastic wrap cannot be reused by boaters,” Jackson said. “This recycling effort will keep shrink-wrap out of our landfills and save marina operators money in disposal costs.”

The New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Office of Maritime Resources awarded the Department of Environmental Protection a $100,000 grant which comes from boater registration fees to implement a marine debris recycling program. Nine counties were given funds to collect, bale and recycle the shrink-wrap. The grants are being used by the municipalities to purchase bins for placement at municipal recycling centers for shrink-wrap collection, to cover recycling facility transportation costs and to provide education to marina operators and boaters about the benefits of shrink-wrap recycling.

Every year, tens of thousands of boats in New Jersey are covered in shrink-wrap to protect them from the elements during winter storage. The plastic is heated to shrink the material and create a tight fit around the vessel, providing a strong protective cover to withstand the weight of snow and ice.

When the weather warms, the shrink-wrap covers are removed to prepare the boats for the upcoming boating season.

Most often, the material is thrown into a Dumpster where it enters the waste stream and winds up in a landfill. But shrink-wrap can be recycled to create more shrink-wrap or it can be used to make plastic bags, plastic lumber and other products.

The New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium and its New Jersey Sea Grant Extension Program, along with the DEP’s Coastal Management Office are behind the Shrink Wrap Plus Recycling Program.

Made possible by grants from I BOAT NJ, the initiative aims to increase the number of participating marinas, boaters and municipalities statewide that collect and recycle this non-biodegradable material by supplying funding for shrink wrap collection.

The selected counties are: Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Middlesex, Morris, Ocean, Sussex, and Union. These counties have committed to collecting and recycling boat shrink wrap material for the five years beginning in 2008.

It is anticipated that the revenue from the initial efforts will sustain the shrink wrap recycling program within each county for years afterwards.

For County Recycling Coordinators, click here.