old garden hose

Ah summertime, hooking up the sprinkler for the kids to run through, washing the dog in the backyard, filling up the watering can from the hose. But after dragging the hose out of the garage, some of us might notice it has cracks, holes, or leaks. You can try to repair them, but if that doesn’t work, you might be wondering, “What do I do with the old hose?”

Unfortunately, the options for recycling are basically non-existent, because of both the hose material and its shape. Most hoses are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU), also known as #3 and #7 plastics for those familiar with the plastic resin ID codes. These are two of the most difficult plastic resins to recycle.

If you purchased a more expensive hose, it’s likely made of synthetic rubber, the material used to make tires and machinery belts. While there’s a great market (and demand) for tire recycling, most of the options for consumers to recycle them are car repair shops, retail stores, and household hazardous waste (HHW) programs, which are unlikely to accept your hose.

Even the most accepting curbside recycling programs won’t want your hose due to its shape. It will easily jam the machinery at the material recovery facility (MRF), just like plastic bags do.

Landfill Alternatives

So, without a realistic recycling option, your next best hope is to keep your hose out of a landfill. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Conduct some DIY hose repair to fix any leaks.
  2. Donate it to a second-hand store like Goodwill, which can make minor repairs and resell the hose (call first to verify acceptance).
  3. Upcycle your hose into a doormat or door decor.
  4. Using a utility knife, cut off the ends of the hose, which are typically made of metal, like brass; you can then recycle these metal pieces at a scrap metal recycling facility.

Other Hose Considerations

With limited eco-friendly disposal options, extending the life of your hose is extra important. The first thing to consider is paying a little extra for a rubber hose when buying a new one. Rubber hoses are often made of recycled material, so even though you might have a tough time recycling, at least the material in the hose may have had a previous life.

Additionally, rubber hoses are more resistant to kinks and holes, and hoses made of PVC have been found to contain lead and phthalates, which can leach into the water (think twice before letting kids drink from the hose). Just like artificial Christmas trees made of PVC, taking the less expensive option may expose your household to lead.

If you live in an area subject to harsh winters, bring your hose inside before snowfall to preserve its life. Since water stays in the hose once you turn off the faucet, keeping it attached during the winter could also increase the chances of frozen pipes.

Feature image by RyanMcGuire, Pixabay. Originally published on November 7, 2018, this article was updated in July 2021.

By Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a former senior waste stream analyst for Earth911.