Shrink Wrap Recycling

Wrapping together zero waste sustainability

The Shrink Wrap Recycling & Life cycle Analysis Project at Clean Ocean Access aims to bring awareness to global plastic issues and pilot a domestic recycling stream using Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) collected from the marine industry of (Southeast) New England. The project aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of domestic recycling efforts, circular economies, expansion of scope of common-material collection, and further mitigate the risk of shrink wrap (plastic film) from entering landfills or incinerators – a risk that is increasing with the National Sword Policy implemented by China in 2017, and the ever-increasing use of plastic film as a result of COVID-19.


Overview of active efforts

Advance collections – To collect 100,000 pounds of plastic film from marine, construction and agricultural sources in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and work with a recycler to create feed stock for reuse, or work with a manufacturer that uses the material directly in their process to create a finished product.

Regional partnerships – To develop regional network of partners that perform collections, storage, material preparation, freight, and processing, and an outline structure for private public partnerships to derive a value proposition from the domestic recycling and facilitate their ownership of it.

Circular economies – To research plastic film market trends across industry sectors to understand and be informed of demand and supply variables impacting the viability of plastic film recycling, including the impacts of COVID-19 and other global aspects.

Exploratory research – To investigate the use of recycled plastic film in the production of marine shrink wrap and determine the barriers to entries and feasible opportunities of increasing the proportion of recycled plastic film in the manufacturing of marine shrink wrap.

Sustainable reusable boat covers – To promote the use of reusable boat covers and conduct a proof of concept inventive program for reusable boat covers with reusable boat cover fabricators and suppliers, and compute a cost analysis of the lifetime cost of reusable covers vs. annual use of single-use shrink wrap.

Education and Outreach –  Our education and outreach activities are aligned with our community scientist efforts so that a hands-on student-led experience can have the greatest chance of fostering environmentally responsible behaviors and promoting stewardship in our community via action. For complete information about education and outreach opportunities, please visit our education page.

Analytics and Reporting – Data becomes information and information becomes knowledge that informs our decision making to address the fate of plastic film. With results since 2019 we have amassed an insightful data set that empowers our organization. All of our data is available for the public and our annual Shrink wrap recycling report can be found on our reports page by the end of 2020.

Advocacy – Our main goal is to bring about systemic change is to connect the community with the environment, educating, inspiring, and empowering to foster environmentally responsible behaviors. However, some forms of shrink wrap recycling and life cycle analysis will require advocacy and policy. For complete information please visit our advocacy action page.

Frequently asked questions

Shrink wrap otherwise known as Low-Density Polyethelene (LDPE) is a flexible plastic that when heated can form around objects. More commonly found in the form of a plastic bag or garbage bag, this material is also known to be a convenient single-use option to project marine assets and agriculture greenhouses during the winter months.
In the United States, there is a low market value for post-consumer recycled (PCR) shrink wrap. The majority of Low-Density Polyethelene collected throughout the country goes into composite wood products. Clean Ocean Access is looking to question why PCR isn’t more commonly used in new manufacturing and find new avenues for project collected material to be used in the creation of new shrink wrap.
With LDPE already having a low market value, any little contamination can greatly impact the end grade of the resin. Because blue wrap is often unique and isnt used in the masses it is label as a contaimiate in the collection of white shrink wrap.
At Clean Ocean Access we are actively collaborating with various different collection services offered across New England. To find out where your most convenient recycling center is please reach out directly to us at


We have made the following accomplishments in our shrink wrap recycling program.

               140,290                                                     152,184                                             292,474
pounds collected in 2020       pounds collected in 2021           total pounds collected