We all know that recycling paper, cans and bottles is a good idea, but why stop there? A number of marine specific products can also be recycled, helping to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills and ensuring proper disposal of potentially hazardous materials.

Why We Should Care?
Did you know that on average every American produces 4.5 lbs of solid waste each day? That adds up quickly. Any materials that can be recycled reduces the amount of waste that is incinerated or sent to landfills and conserves natural resources and raw materials. Recycling prevents the emission of many greenhouse gases and water pollutants, saves energy, conserves resources and reduces the need for new landfills.

Did you know that the following products may be recycled?

Oil Lead batteries
Used Oil Filters Monofilament Fishing Line
Shrink wrap Antifreeze

What I can do?

  • Ask your marina what products can be recycled onsite.
  • If your marina does not offer onsite recycling, go to to find recycling locations near you.
  • As a boater, when recycling, be sure to separate all products into their designated collection containers. Cross-contamination of products can lead to waste disposal problems.
  • As a marina, before creating a new recycling program ensure you have a place that will accept the raw materials.
  • When going out on the water, take along an extra bag to separate recyclable bottles and cans from your non-recyclable trash. Once onshore place cans and bottles in a recycling bin or take them home for recycling.

Recyclable Products

Disposing of used oil can be a messy problem. Used oil is considered a hazardous waste and if not handled properly it can contaminate soil and waterways resulting in environmental damage and costly clean-up. Luckily, it can be easily and safely recycled. In fact, recycling and rerefining used oil uses between 50 to 85 percent less energy than refining virgin crude oil. Check with your marina to see if they offer collection of used oil for recycling. If they do, be sure to follow their guidelines for handling the used oil. If your marina does not offer a used oil collection service, check with your local automobile repair shop or look on for a collection site near you.

Used oil filters
Oil filters are recyclable because they're made of steel, North America's number one recycled material. They can be recycled into new steel products, such as cans, cars, appliances and construction materials. Recycling all the filters sold annually in the United States would result in the recovery enough steel to make 160,000 new cars! For used oil filter recycling locations see:

Shrink wrap
Shrink wrap is a low-density polyethylene cocoon used to protect boats during the winter. Shrink wrap is not biodegradable, and can become a disposal problem at landfills. Many marinas have started offering bulk shrink wrap recycling programs. If your marina does not offer shrink wrap recycling on site, there are companies that for a nominal fee will send you a postage paid bag that can be filled with shrink warp and returned to the company for recycling. For more information see:

To date, flares can not be recycled but special care should be taken with their disposal. Throwing flares in your household trash can cause a dangerous situation and setting off old flares can result in false distress reports. To dispose of expired flares contact your local county public works department, police or fire department. Alternatively check with a local boating education group. They often use old flares for educational purposes.

Lead batteries
Batteries contain lead and sulfuric acid which are both toxic to the marine environment. Most states have battery recycling laws which has prompted most battery dealers to ask for your old battery upon the purchase of a new one. When a spent battery is collected, it is sent to a permitted recycler where, under strict environmental regulations, the lead and plastic are reclaimed and sent to a new battery manufacturer. As a result of these programs the typical new lead-acid battery contains 60 to 80 percent recycled lead and plastic. For more information on where to recycle batteries see:

Monofilament Fishing Line
Monofilament line is another name for single-strand, high-density, nylon fishing line that is used on fishing reels and in the manufacturing of fishing nets. When disposed of improperly monofilament can be hazardous to marine life, scuba divers and even boat propellers. In recent years monofilament recycling programs have popped up around the country. Look for designated collection containers near where you fish or at a local tackle shop. If you can not find a monofilament recycling location near you contact Berkley, (1-800-237-5539) a major manufacturer of fishing line, for information on how you can recycle your used fishing line.

While marine-rated propylene glycol antifreeze is less toxic than “regular” automobile-use ethylene glycol antifreeze, both products need to be handled carefully and disposed of properly. Used antifreeze often contains other substances including heavy metals that can be harmful to human and aquatic health. Antifreeze can be filtered and reconditioned for reuse by licensed professionals. For more information on where to find an antifreeze recycling location near you go to:

©2010-2011, BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water