Rhode Island boaters recycled 5 tons of plastic film last month during the state's first collection event aimed at diverting waste from winter boat storage.
Many residents who remove their boats from the water at the end of the boating season winterize them by wrapping them in low density polyethylene film. New boats often come wrapped in the material.
The pilot recycling program included 19 marinas. The Rhode Island Marine Trades Association used a $15,800 grant from Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp., the state's environmental agency, and a $7,250 grant from the American Plastics Council to set up the test program.
``We're hoping that this program will really catch on and that we'll be able to roll it out to the rest of the marinas in Rhode Island,'' said Gerard DiSchino, president-elect of the state boating association.
``Many more marinas are interested in the program because they know their customers care deeply about the environment,'' DiSchino said.
If the pilot is successful, the boating association hopes to make the program mandatory for marinas seeking Rhode Island clean-marina certificates, he said.
All of the boat wrap used to end up at a Rhode Island landfill, but the recycling program allows boaters to pay a small fee to recycle the plastic.
``We commend the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association for their willingness to test a waste-management program that benefits not only their own interests but that of the entire state,'' said Sherry Mulhearn, executive director of the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp.
The 5 tons collected in the initial event is impressive, considering that most people have not put their boats in the water yet, said Beth Bailey, a spokeswoman for the state environmental agency. The majority of the boats are put into the water after Mother's Day or Memorial Day.