Waste Management and Recycling
All marinas generate some waste — waste that could threaten human health, potentially harm aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, and cost coastal and lake communities.
Solid waste, particularly plastics, must be contained. There are many well-documented instances of marine mammals, fish, turtles, and seabirds that have choked on or become entangled in plastic marine debris. Plastics also represent a hazard to navigation, as they can snare propellers and clog engine intake systems. Divers are, likewise, susceptible to entanglement. Furthermore, solid waste that washes up on shore is unattractive and may be costly to remove.
In addition to solid waste, marina operators must manage the proper collection and disposal of liquid wastes and hazardous wastes (i.e., corrosive, reactive, toxic, and/or ignitable materials).
There are other benefits to being a good waterfront waste management steward. For example, being compliant with federal and state regulations in regard to hazardous waste management limits your liability in accidents, and can protecting your staff and your business from potential expensive bills for violations and injuries.
Best Management Practices and Legal Setting
This Unit includes three sections of best management practices, an overview of the legal setting, and a Unit Review. First, the Hazardous Wastes section describes how to determine if your marina produces hazardous waste and how to manage and dispose of such waste. The Waste Management section provides best management practices for waste reduction, trash management, and proper disposal methods.
The Recycling and Education section provides information on how to collect and recycle solid and liquid wastes and educate your boaters on waste management issues. The following list provides an outline of best management practices that you will see in each section.
- Evaluate how waste moves through your marina (waste streams)
- Determine your hazardous waste generator status
- Hazardous waste management
- Minimize your use of hazardous products
- Manage universal waste
- Manage used oil and filters
- Proper disposal of used oil spill materials
- Manage hazardous waste from boat owners
- Track pollution incidents
- Reduce waste
- Manage waste and recyclables
- Recycle solid waste
- Collect and recycle liquid wastes
- Follow recommended disposal methods
- Manage fish waste
- Manage pet waste
- Manage wildlife waste
- Educate boaters about marina waste management
Before reviewing the best management practices, please take a few moments to review the legal setting for waste management and recycling. This overview of federal laws and regulations provides you with a basis of understanding. However, it is a starting point and not a complete reference; please consult your state officials for complete requirements. Also, see: State Laws page for your state
Annex V of MARPOL (Marine Pollution) 1973, 1978
United States Coast Guard regulations prohibit dumping of plastic refuse and garbage mixed with plastic into any waters, and restricts dumping of other forms of garbage. It is illegal to dump plastic, dunnage, and lining or packing materials that float, or any garbage within 25 miles of an ocean shoreline and in U.S. lakes, rivers, bays, and sounds.
Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act
The Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act (MPPRCA) is the U.S. law that implements an international pollution prevention treaty known as MARPOL (short for “marine pollution”). The MPPRCA of 1987 (Title II of Public Law 100-220) restricts the overboard discharge of garbage. Its primary emphasis is on plastics; it is illegal to discharge plastic materials into any body of water. The law also requires that marinas be able to accept garbage from vessels that normally do business with them.
All vessels 26 feet or longer must display a MARPOL placard in a prominent location outlining the garbage dumping restrictions. In addition, all vessels 40 feet or longer operating more than 3 miles from shore that are equipped with a galley and berthing must also have a written waste management plan on board.
The Refuse Act of 1899
The Refuse Act of 1899 prohibits throwing, discharging, or depositing any refuse matter of any kind (including trash, garbage, oil, and other liquid pollutants) into the waters of the United States.
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act)
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act prohibits the discharge of oil, oily waste, or hazardous substances, which may be harmful into U.S. navigable waters or the waters of the contiguous zone. The discharge of oil or oily waste is prohibited if such discharge causes a film or sheen upon, or discoloration of, the surface of the water. Violators are subject to a penalty of $5,000.
Vessels 26 feet in length and over must display a placard at least 5 by 8 inches, made of durable material, fixed in a conspicuous place in the machinery spaces, or at the bilge pump control station. Violators are subject to a penalty of $5,000.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and State Hazardous Waste Laws
The Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976 was established to improve the collection, transportation, separation, recovery, and disposal of solid and hazardous waste. State administrative laws typically include details that govern the management of hazardous waste, universal waste, and used oil. Hazardous waste generator status is determined by the amount (pounds/gallons) of waste produced per month. Consult your state for specific requirements.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
In accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (29 USC Sec. 657) operators must have Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all products used at the facility (including diesel and gas). A variety of OSHA fire protection and prevention regulations may apply to marinas, see: Safety and Health Regulations for Construction – Fire Protection and Prevention (OSHA).