Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Marinas

Marina owners need to become more sustainable. Without the proper procedures and policies, marinas and boatyards have a major negative impact on the environment, hurting their reputation, their business and the planet. This article discusses the major green initiatives a marina can implement to become more sustainable. In order for a marina to become sustainable they must consider:

  • Recycling shrink wrap
  • Taking measures to reduce waste entering the water 
  • Installing solar panels
  • Prioritizing recycling 

How Marinas Impact the Environment

The environmental impact of having too many boats and marinas not acting environmentally responsible can be extremely large and detrimental. Here are some of the major consequences:

  • Ecosystem disruption – Boats disrupt fragile ecosystems by stirring up sand and mud on the bottom which decreases water clarity and allows algae to grow.  Marinas and recreational boating use up a large portion of our coastal waterways. 
  • Landfill pollution – Plastic shrink-wrap, bottles, packaging and materials are not being properly recycled and disposed of.
  • Water pollution – Garbage, wood waste, fuels and other non-biodegradable  products are being dumped into waterways for convenience polluting our water systems and oceans.
  • Fossil-fuel and carbon discharge – Boat motors idling, buildings burning oil and gas are adding to our planet’s carbon footprint and driving dangerous climate change.

The Case for Marina Sustainability

Marinas need to incorporate sustainability into their operations to mitigate the aforementioned environmental impact. They will not only increase business but ensure that generations to come will be able to enjoy boating like we do today. Incorporating sustainable boating may seem challenging however, there are simple procedures like recycling, waste management, green energy that make a big difference.

Below are important initiatives for marina owners and operators to take to become a sustainable and eco-friendly industry.

Prioritize Recycling 

Boaters will not recycle if it is not convenient to them. You can ensure that recycling is convenient for boaters by placing a recycling can next to every trash can at the marina. Such a small change in this can reduce marina generated trash and help your marina be perceived as a much more eco friendly, separating you from the competition. Most marinas have small stores for boating needs, by eliminating single use plastics such as plastic bags, your marina will generate much less waste, cutting down on trash collection costs, and creating a more sustainable image.

Recycle Your Shrink-wrap

The majority of boaters and marina owners don’t know that shrink wrap is actually a highly recyclable material. Recycling shrink-wrap is one easy way that your marina can become more sustainable. This starts by contacting a company that specializes in recycling shrink-wrap and placing a shrink-wrap dumpster in a convenient location for boaters to access. Since 2007, over 900 tons of shrink-wrap have been recycled, which shows that there has been a movement towards sustainability amongst marinas and boat owners. However, with 13 million registered boats in the US alone it is important for every marina to provide easy ways for boaters to recycle their shrink-wrap.

Limit Waste in Water 

Another way to help your marina become more sustainable is by installing a 24/7 pump out service at the marina. Most states cover a large percentage of the costs associated with installing pump out stations and this can be a cheap way to provide additional amenities for boaters while doing your part to limit waste. In addition to this, make sure every employee is properly trained to handle a fuel or waste leak at the marina. When there is a fuel leak, the first few minutes are essential to limiting the environmental damage. It is important to ensure the fuel leak is contained and authorities are contacted.  

Install Solar Panels

While this may seem expensive, marinas are the perfect place to install solar panels due to the lack of tree cover and large boat sheds that marinas often have. Many companies offer financing options on solar panels. If your marina has a big enough building, installing solar panels can cut down on electricity costs and can sometimes provide power for the entire marina which will save a lot of money in the long run as you will not be charged for the electricity used by dockside power hookups.

Certify Your Green Business

Once your marina is more eco-friendly and sustainable, you should earn all the benefits that come with being a sustainable business. It is important to market your marina as eco friendly in a credible way, ideally via a 3rd party certification. One of the most popular and reputable sustainability certifications is the Green Business Bureau certification. Their online guided self-certification approach will provide an Eco-score for your business and serve as a way to measure your marina’s sustainability. The program includes a clickable online seal and badge to display on your website that take customers to the Green Business Bureau website to show customers the actual initiatives you’ve completed. This full-transparency approach works best with customers and employees. 


Marinas should make the switch to become more eco friendly. While the costs to make these changes may seem high upfront, the benefits  typically outweigh the costs.  More efficient energy via solar will lower your bills. Keeping your waters clean will attract more customers. Being perceived as eco-friendly will elevate your brand. Here are some long term effects associated with having an environmentally conscious marina.

  • Helps preserve our marine environment
  • Attracts new customers 
  • Gives the marina a good reputation 
  • Saves the marina money and can bring in other sources of revenue such as selling back solar energy 
  • Encourages other businesses to be more sustainable
  • Other marina managers will use your marina as a benchmark in sustainability

About the Author

Nathan DeJongh

GBB Green Ambassador
Nate DeJongh is a content writer for Green Business Bureau who is passionate about exploring how companies can adapt to become better for the environment. Nate is currently pursuing a degree in Finance and Political Science at the University of Connecticut. Outside of his work and studies, Nate loves to spend his time boating, fishing and hiking.

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