The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging owners of small boats to “Think Before You Shrink” wrap this year, and convert to reusable materials during their winterization procedures. The goal is to reduce plastic waste and alleviate disposal issues caused by removing shrink wrap every spring. 

shrink wrap
The Maryland DNR urges boaters to consider reusable covers over shrink wrap this winter. Photo by Mariah Cook.

Semi-custom, reusable covers are readily available for most small boats at about the same cost as two years of shrink wrap. The reusable covers last five to ten years and can be repaired or cleaned by canvas shops to extend their life. Installing a reusable cover on a small boat is easy and protects as well as plastic, and semi-custom reusable covers are available via online retailers for many boats.

Recycling shrinkwrap material is costly, time consuming, and difficult.

The Maryland Clean Marina Program has created a free poster for marinas, boatyards, and yacht clubs to share this message with boaters. 

Boaters can ask their marina or local marine retailer for help purchasing, cleaning, or repairing their covers. A list of marinas and canvas workers can be found on the Marine Trades Association of Maryland (MTAM) website or in the Guide to Marine Services produced by MTAM each year. 

The Clean Marina Program is also updating its award criteria to encourage marine facilities to promote reusable covers where practical and to properly recycle shrink wrap in the spring. Marinas, boatyard, and yacht clubs interested in seeking the Maryland Clean Marina designation are encouraged to visit the program website and to contact [email protected] with any questions.