This might sound like a broad question. But it’s one that you need to ask if you take your old inflatables to a recycling center. You may have to call them and ask, “can you recycle inflatable pool toys?”
You’d be surprised how often the answer is no. But why is that? Are inflatable pools recyclable plastic or not? The answer to this question is — sort of. Let’s take a look.
What Materials Are Inflatable Pools Made of?
The vast majority of inflatables are made of polyvinyl chloride or PVC. This material carries a recycling category of 3.
Have you ever looked at the numbers on recycling symbols? These numbers correspond to how hardy the material is and how long it will last. Items at 1 and 2 on the recycling number scale are recyclable at just about any facility. Items at 3 through 7 can be recycled depending on the facility and the plastic’s condition.
The issue with PVC is that it’s designed to be strong, and this strength makes it hard to recycle. If you’re dead set on figuring out how to recycle inflatable pool PVC, get ready for some serious research!
You'll have to find a recycling center near you that can accept it. Getting rid of your old inflatable pool might be as easy as tossing it in your recycling bin. It depends on whether your recycling center can recycle it.
Eco-Friendly Materials: Alternative Materials to PVC
If all of this sounds like too much work, don’t worry! You can find an eco-friendly inflatable pool. These are usually made from more easily recycled polyethylene. This is the kind of plastic used to make soda and water bottles.
The upside to this kind of plastic is that you never have to ask, “can you recycle inflatable pools” ever again. Also, it’s non-toxic. The kind of substances you should watch out for are materials with BPAs or phthalates.
Another kind of plastic that’s non-toxic and inert is thermoplastic polyurethane. This plastic is also called TPU. TPU does not off-gas and can be hard or soft. Generally, TPU is used for baby mats because it is completely safe to handle.
What Materials in Inflatable Pools Are Recyclable?
This depends on your particular inflatable pool. Can you recycle inflatable pools made from PVC? TPU? Low or high-density polyethylene? Only your recycling center can say. The answer is — maybe. But there’s another part to this question of recyclability.
Remember that not every part of an inflatable pool is made from the same material. People often remove labels from bottles to aid in recyclability. This is similar. You may also have to identify which pieces of your inflatable pool are recyclable and which aren’t.
The valves may be made of one kind of plastic, while the rest of the pool may be made of some other material.
Recycling Alternatives for Inflatable Pools
Another way to look at the issue is to ask, “are inflatable pools recyclable or worth saving?” Remember that you can repair your old inflatables, and it’s not even that difficult. Grab some duct tape and waterproof superglue because here’s how you’ll do it!
- Locate the leak and measure its size
- Clean and dry the surface
- Cut a piece of duct tape large enough to cover the leak and place it on
- Cut a second piece of duct tape larger than the first
- Put superglue on the sticky side of the second piece of tape
- Apply a second piece of tape over the first
There you have it! Now your inflatable pool is ready for more years of fun and sun. You can also patch holes with pieces of other old inflatables, too. If your pool is too far gone, you might cut it up to use as patches for other pools.
How to Reuse Inflatable Pools
Perhaps you’re getting rid of your old inflatable pools because the kids don’t use them anymore. That’s fine. Kids outgrow stuff all of the time. Your old inflatable pools can still be useful with a bit of imagination!
Method 1: Turn It into an Ice Bucket
If you’re hosting a barbecue, you want to make sure there are enough frosty beverages for everyone to enjoy. Fill that old pool with ice and keep the drinks in there. It looks fun and festive, too! And depending on how big the inflatable pool is, it might be able to hold a shocking number of drinks.
Method 2: Create Your Own Ball Pit
The kids don’t have to get wet to enjoy the inflatable pool. Fill it with plastic balls, some larger inflatables like beach balls, and cut up foam to make a fun, at-home ball pit. The other benefit is that you don’t have to deal with unsanitary ball pits at restaurants or theme parks. It’s just for you and your family!
Method 3: Use the Material for Projects
Sometimes the better alternative to recycling an inflatable pool is to upcycle it. Remember that PVC is meant to last a very long time, and it’s waterproof. You can use some of the material to make costumes, bags, and other crafts.
Can Inflatable Pool Toys Be Recycled?
It depends! What is it made of? We’ve talked about inflatable pool materials and plastics. But there’s something else you can do with your old inflatable pools that we haven’t mentioned. You can sell them or give them away!
Check with friends and neighbors to see if they would like your old inflatable pools, or put them up on eBay. You can also donate them to a thrift store or charity and do some good.
What Will You Do with Your Old Inflatable Pools?
Inflatable pools have value. Perhaps not to you, but maybe to someone else. With some imagination, you can transform your old inflatable pool into something new! Or, you might just patch it and continue using it for its intended purpose. The point is, you have options. So what will you do?