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boat wrap

Brightmark Pioneers Boat-Wrap Recycling Program

The collected material will be used as feedstock for transportation fuel and wax at Brightmark’s facility in Ashley, IN.

Brightmark (San Francisco), a global waste solutions provider, announced July 7 that it has successfully completed a pilot collection program for boat wrap with a marine services dealer located near the company’s Ashley, IN, plastics renewal facility. Supported by the Northeast Indiana Solid Waste Management District (NISWMD), the project established the viability of diverting from the waste stream used boat wrap from leisure crafts that were placed into water storage. The collected material will now be used as a feedstock to produce transportation fuel and wax at the Ashley facility, according to Brightmark’s information.

Brightmark plans to expand the program with marinas located in four counties — DeKalb, LaGrange, Noble, and Steuben — serviced by the NISWMD. Seasonal boating, water sports, and fishing are leading contributors to the local economy. More than 100 freshwater lakes are located in the region.

“Boat wrap is a pure waste stream that has always been difficult to properly recycle,” said Steve Christman, Executive Director of the NISWMD. “This program fits perfectly because it allows us to turn the waste into something of value to boaters.”

Brightmark’s proprietary plastics-renewal process accepts co-mingled, single-stream plastics and transforms them into fuel and wax. The process leads to a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions vs. traditionally captured oil, the company said. Brightmark’s first commercial-scale plastics-renewal facility in Ashley, which is where the boat wrap will be shipped, will recycle 100,000 tons of mixed plastic waste each year.

The wrap, a linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), is similar in structure to heavy duty garbage bags and is difficult to recycle as a somewhat contaminated, seasonal material. By collecting the wrap from local marinas, Brightmark ensures that it does not end up in local landfills and, instead, finds a productive second use as a fuel source for local vehicles and power boats.

Boat wrap accounts for approximately 110,000 tons of waste annually. When recycled, it would equal nearly 21,000 barrels of renewable fuel, according to Brightmark. Image: Akhug/Adobe Stock

The ultra-low sulfur diesel and gasoline blend stocks produced from the boat wrap and other co-mingled plastic waste will be sold to BP, where it will then go into the wholesale transportation fuel pool in the Midwest.

“A lot of boat owners have asked what they can do with the boat wrap because they want to do right by the environment, but we haven’t been able to give them a good solution,” said Terry Archbold, owner of Dry Dock Marina in Angola, IN. ”Now we can give them a suitable option and fulfill that need to act sustainably.”

According to Brightmark, more than 11 million boats are registered in the United States. A significant portion of those boats need to be wrapped when they are in dry dock during the winter months. The amount of boat wrap removed each year adds up to approximately 110,000 tons of waste, which, when recycled, would equal nearly 21,000 barrels of renewable fuel.

“The numbers show this waste problem goes far beyond just the state of Indiana,” said Bob Bowell, CEO of Brightmark. “But to us, it represents one of those really big problems Brightmark was created to solve.”

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