Recycling Mystery: Garden Hoses

old garden hose

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As winter approaches, it’s time for many homeowners to put away the garden hose to protect it from winter weather. But if you’re noticing holes or leaks, 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 would be retail stores and household hazardous waste (HHW) programs, which would be unlikely to accept your hose.

Even the most accepting curbside recycling programs wouldn’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. Turn your hose into a holiday decoration.
  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 hose had a previous life.

Rubber hoses are also more resistant to kinks and holes, and hoses made of PVC have been found to contain lead and phthalates (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 house 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


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