Are Pool Noodles Recyclable? Explained

Everyone with a pool has likely used pool noodles to assist with learning to swim or have fun. However, these pool noodles wear out over time and must be replaced with new ones. This raises an essential question: What should we do with the old ones? Are pool noodles recyclable, and if not, what can we do with them? In this article, we’ll talk about that. So, let’s start!

Are Pool Noodles Recyclable? Pool noodles are typically made from polyethylene foam, which is not easily recyclable. Most local recycling facilities can’t process this material. Therefore, pool noodles are generally not considered recyclable in the traditional sense. Instead, be sure to cut them before throwing them in the garbage.

Unfortunately, this particular material isn’t easy to recycle in many areas. So, when your pool noodles have served their purpose, it’s best not to place them in your recycling bin. You might want to slice them up or bend them so they can easily fit in your regular trash. It is up to you to decide how you will use it. But that’s not all. Read below how to do it correctly.

What Are Pool Noodles?

A pool noodle is a long, flexible tube made from a light and floaty material called polyethylene foam (PE). Many young and old swimmers use pool noodles when they’re in the water. They can help beginner swimmers learn to swim, assist with floating, be used in fun water games, help with water workouts, and even come in handy during rescues.

Usually, these noodles are about 5 feet 3 inches long (160 cm) and roughly 3 inches wide (7 cm). They’re especially great for those who might need a bit of extra support while swimming. Additionally, they can be used outside of the pool to cushion sharp corners or edges.

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Why Pool Noodles Are Hard To Recycle?

Pool Noodles Are Hard To Recycle

The challenge arises when pool noodles wear out, and you need to throw them away (dispose of them) without harming the environment. While some materials can be effortlessly recycled, others require extra steps.

These noodles are crafted from a material that isn’t easy to recycle. As per GreenMax INTCO Recycling, although recycling them is possible, it’s not commonly practiced. Many neighborhood recycling centers don’t have the tools or setup to process these specific pool noodles, making it rare to find this recycling option.

Pool Noodles Made of PE Foam Can Be Recycled

Polyethylene (PE) foam, the material used in pool noodles, comes with a “4” label, which means it’s recyclable. Being a thermoplastic, PE foam can be recycled with the right tools and equipment. A special machine can heat and melt the PE foam, turning it into a material that can be reused to create new items.

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Not All Recycling Facilities Can Handle PE Foam

Around 30% of Polyethylene (PE) foam gets recycled, which is a lot, but about 70% doesn’t. To recycle PE foam, you need special machines that can squash, melt, and then shape the foam into EPE blocks. However, not every recycling spot has these machines. Also, with a little Google search, you can find the right places to do it. Taking that extra step can make a big difference.

What NOT To Do

Don’t throw them in the lake or your recycling bin unless it is allowed in your area. Don’t burn them because they can release dangerous fumes. You don’t want that.

So, How Do You Recycle Pool Noodles?

Ways To Recycle Pool Noodles

Here are some ways to recycle foam pool noodles.

  • If you no longer need them but are still in good shape, consider donating or passing them to your neighbor or friend.
  • You can chop them into tiny bits and place them in regular trash, but be aware they take a very long time to break down completely.

As we said before, we know that pool noodles aren’t easy to recycle. So, why not give them a new purpose?

Here are some ways to re-purpose pool noodles.

  • Turn them into craft tools, like the Pool Noodle Craft Stamps.
  • Create playful items such as Pool Noodle Boats.
  • If they’re too worn out for crafts, cut them into bits and use them as a base in plant pots.
  • Keep bags or tall footwear in shape by inserting bits of pool noodles.
  • Attach them to your garage wall to prevent car door scratches.
  • Make them into toy swords and let children have their own “Star Wars” battles.

Do you still need more ideas? Here is a YouTube video that will give you 15 awsome tricks on what you can do with your pool noodles:

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FAQ: People Also Ask

Do pool noodles biodegrade?

Typically, pool noodles are crafted from plastic-type #4 (LDPE foam). They can’t be recycled in most cases and should be thrown in the garbage. Over time, these noodles break into tiny plastic particles, harming our water sources.

Are pool noodles safe for plants?

These foam tubes are useful for swimming and can be handy in gardening, too. They help conserve soil in oversized pots and support taller planters. Moreover, they can serve as protective barriers for your garden plants, providing a cushioned shield.

Final Thoughts

Pool noodles, which are often made from PE foam, present a recycling challenge. Many local recycling facilities are not equipped to handle this particular material, meaning a significant portion of it ends up in our garbage. While they provide numerous recreational benefits, it’s essential to consider their environmental impact.

Exploring alternative reuse or repurposing methods can help mitigate their footprint. As consumers, understanding and finding sustainable ways to manage pool noodle waste is crucial for a greener future. I hope this article has helped you, and if you have any other questions, feel free to comment.

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