How to Recycle Hoola Hoop Tubing

recycling [Hooping.org columnist Lara Eastburn helps us keep our hoops out of landfills.]

by Lara Eastburn

“There is an end to everything,” wrote Chaucer, “to good things as well.” Alas, even our beloved hoops won’t last forever. It can be hard to accept when our favorite circular companion has reached the end of its usefulness. A hoop that is tattered and beat to hell can only be slathered down with adhesive remover and re-taped so many times. And then there are the unfortunate victims of car tires (it happens more than you think!) and LED hoops inadvertently left out in the elements. And with every hoop-maker inevitably collecting a growing pile of tubing remnants, what’s a green-conscious hooper to do with our notoriously difficult-to-recycle hoop materials?

If you’re up for an art project there are some great ways to reuse and repurpose that old hoop. Consider turning that hoop into a holiday wreath, creating your very own twinkle light chandelier or weaving yourself a hula hoop rug. There are so many possibilities – but even if you are feeling crafty, chances are if you’ve got tubing remnants headed for that great big hoop heaven in the sky, you’ll be glad to know that these days there are increasingly more ways to give them a second life. Here’s the down low on how to recycle (almost) all types of hoop plastics.

Get Ready to Recycle: 1) All tubing destined for recycling should be cleaned of hardware, tapes and adhesive residue. I use a product called Goo Gone. 2) Use your PVC Cutters, available for about $12 from any hardware store, to cut those large sections of tubing into more manageable pieces. 3) Search for your nearest recycling location by cross-referencing your zip code with the type of plastic you need to recycle at 1-800-Recycling.com.

HDPE Tubing: The most common tubing used in hoops is a #2 plastic and by far the easiest to recycle. High-Density Polyethylene is what milk containers and shampoo bottles are made of and is widely accepted by roadside and local recycling centers. HDPE is such a strong plastic (think Tupperware) that recycling it is becoming increasingly important. It is the most-recycled plastic and is regularly re-used in trash bins, rope, plastic lumber, and you guessed it, tubing! Drop-off recycling centers will distinguish between color and white or clear HDPE, so go ahead and separate them in advance. Source: Wastecare Corporation.

LDPE Tubing: Low-Density Polyethylene is a #4 plastic. You’ll be able to distinguish it from HDPE because it is more transparent and flexible than HDPE. LDPE is much less commonly accepted by roadside recycling services, but even here in rural Texas I found an LDPE recycler just 30 miles from my home. Source: Plastics and the Planet.

PEX Tubing: PEX should be your first choice for art projects (this is my favorite) because it cannot be melted down for re-use. PEX is very rarely recyclable, so reuse and repurpose. Source: PexUniverse.com.

PPE Tubing: Polypropylene, or Polypro, is a #5 plastic that was near-impossible to recycle until very recently. But here in the United States, Whole Foods stores and Preserve have teamed up to do just that with their new “Gimme 5” initiative. Gimme 5 recycling locations can be found at Whole Foods stores in 36 U.S. states and the list is growing. They’ve even developed a smart phone app for finding the Polypro recycling station nearest to you. Source: PreserveProducts.com.

As hoopers, recycling hoop tubing is one of the easiest ways we can give back to our communities and do our part to keep hoops out of landfills. Recycling helps minimize waste materials in a community, preserves raw materials and creates jobs. Why not designate yourself as the local hoop recycling guru and accept over-used hoops and hoop-making materials at your local hoop jam or class studio? Get started right here: 1-800-Recycling.com.

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Lara Eastburn Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. She’s also the driving force behind Circumference with online and live business and marketing classes for hoop makers, instructors, and performers.

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1 comment for “How to Recycle Hoola Hoop Tubing

  1. November 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Lara, it never dawned on me that tubes of all varieties weren’t recyclable. I use tubing pieces for so many things, I can only think of up-cycling them. One of the best uses for the larger diameters is to corral cords. Split about a 4″ piece straight from one end to the other and slip extra folds of electrical cords in it. Also good for puppet making.

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