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Boat Shrink Wrap Recycling Initiative on Cape Cod Reduces Environmental Impact in 2022

Local partnerships and boat owners find new life for unwanted plastic. 

December 30, 2022 (Barnstable, MA) – To help keep plastic out of landfills, Barnstable County’s Cooperative Extension, Woods Hole Sea Grant, and AmeriCorps Cape Cod partnered with 5 Cape Cod towns to divert 5.25 tons of boat shrink wrap from the waste stream and to recycle the plastic into new product. 

From April to June of 2022, the Boat Shrink Wrap Recycling Program allowed Cape residents to bring used, clean shrink wrap to transfer stations in Bourne, Chatham, Dennis, Eastham, and Wellfleet, free of charge. The recycling program has been operating for 5 years, and the tonnage of recyclable shrink-wrap turned in has increased year over year.   

The success of the collaborative program extends to partnerships off-Cape. The shrink wrap collected on Cape Cod is then transferred to the Republic Services recycling facility in Brockton to be sold on the commodities market and as alternative products.  

“The clean shrink wrap is fairly desirable to recycle, and it can be mixed with lesser-grade materials to make a variety of products, such as composite lumber for making benches, decks, heavy-duty playsets, and various storage products,” said Kari Parcell, Barnstable County Cape Cod Cooperative Extension’s Municipal Assistance Coordinator.  

Boats tightly swaddled in shrink wrap are a common sight in marinas and service yards around Cape Cod. Shrink wrap is practical as it protects against rain, sun, dirt, or corrosion, but like plastic bags, it is a single-use item. Removing it at the beginning of the boating season inevitably brings up the question of disposal and shrink wrap recycling.  

“For all its practicality, shrink-wrap is not biodegradable and contributes significant mass to our landfills. It can also end up in our ocean waters, posing a hazard to marine life,” said Parcell. “Boaters love a clean environment and clean boats,” Parcell said. “The shrink wrap keeps their boats clean and recycling the wrap will help keep our environment clean.” 

Details for the 2023 shrink wrap collection will be released in early spring. For more information visit 


Cape Cod Cooperative Extension is the education department for Barnstable County. Educational programs focus on agriculture, marine resources, horticulture, aquaculture, natural resources, water quality, recycling, household hazardous waste, nutrition, food safety, youth development, and environmental education issues facing the county. Extension programs are conducted in Barnstable County in cooperation with the staff at the University of Massachusetts, and The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution–Sea Grant program.

ABOUT BARNSTABLE COUNTY REGIONAL GOVERNMENT OF CAPE COD Barnstable County provides exemplary government functions and services to keep our community healthy and safe, promote sustainable growth, and offer a proactive, open government that enhances the quality of life for the citizens of Barnstable County. Learn more at