Are Plastic Garden Hose Reels Recyclable?

Plastic makes up 80% of the marine litter in our oceans and seas today, making recycling more admirable than ever before. Suppose you have plastic garden hose reels in your garden and wonder if they’re recyclable. Can you recycle your plastic garden hose reels?

Plastic garden hose reels are recyclable, but not all recycling stations—especially those used by municipal garbage collection—are equipped to handle them. Today’s hose reels can usually only be recycled by the manufacturer, and the service is only available to distributors.

Keep reading as I explain why hose reels are recyclable, why bylaws prohibit them, and why their manufacturers won’t recycle them. I’ll elucidate what you should do with them, including preparing them for disposal. Finally, I’ll briefly discuss why your garden hoses aren’t recyclable.

Is It Possible To Recycle Plastic Garden Hose Reels?

Municipal bylaws prohibit the collection of plastic garden hose reels, and manufacturers won’t recycle them. So, is it possible to recycle plastic garden hose reels?

It’s technically possible to recycle plastic garden hose reels. However, it might be difficult to find a facility to do so. Most municipalities have recycling bylaws prohibiting hose reels, and facilities that will take them are few and far between.

While recycling plastic is complicated—and its usefulness disputed—you can recycle most plastics. You can recycle most plastics up to two or three times before they need to be disposed of! All it takes is having the right machinery, removing unrecyclable parts, and correctly sorting the plastic.

It doesn’t seem so, but sorting the plastic by type is important. Some types of plastic cannot be effectively or safely combined with others. Sorting plastic pieces is a difficult process, which requires quite a bit of manual labor by recycling employees.

Why Do Recycling Bylaws Prohibit Garden Hose Reels?

So, why do recycling bylaws prohibit garden hose reels, despite their recyclability? Wouldn’t it be best to try and reduce waste?

Recycling bylaws prohibit garden hose reels likely because an underfunded municipal facility might be unable to process them. Another reason is that taking the metal parts out of the reels by hand might require too much workforce. However, the true reason is unclear.

Recycling as a whole is underfunded as a whole, both in the United States and around the world. When combined with underfunded waste management programs on the municipal level, it can lead to inefficiencies in how certain objects are recycled.

Your local facilities may not have the correct machinery to process bulky objects like garden hose reels or process that type of plastic. They also may not have the money to pay people to remove the metal parts on different objects by hand. Both these complications could lead to your city or town prohibiting collecting certain recyclable items.

While it’s sad that not all recyclable materials can be recycled, there are limits on what any (relatively) small group of people can do. If we want to make a dent in plastic pollution in our oceans, we’ll need to invest more in recycling services. However, with the potential cost of plastic pollution being far off in the future, further support is unlikely.

Can Hose Reel Manufacturers Recycle My Hose Reel?

Your municipal recycling services can’t, so can your hose reel’s manufacturer recycle it?

Most hose reel manufacturers won’t recycle your hose reel for you. But there’s no harm in phoning and asking them. Such services are usually reserved for distributors—or the stores that sell the reels—and might not be publicly available.

It’s impossible for manufacturers to take on the job of recycling all their reels. On top of their manufacturing facilities and workforce, they’d have to create secondary ones for recycling. Unfortunately, most companies—such as Eaton—don’t have extra money for that, so they keep their recycling services available only to the stores selling their reels.

If you want to, you could try contacting your reel’s manufacturer and asking if they can recycle it for you. However, doing this isn’t normal practice. So don’t bet on them being your final solution.

Can I Repair Broken Garden Hose Reels at Home?

You likely won’t be able to recycle your hose reel, but can you repair it? Is that something you can do at home, by yourself?

You can repair broken garden hose reels at home and replace and tighten the screws, washers, and fittings. In some cases, leaky hoses can be patched. You can also do preventative maintenance to ensure your hose reel doesn’t break in the first place.

To do so, you first need to identify the problem. Sometimes, the damage is obvious—like the plastic legs breaking. Other times, it’s less so. It’s a good idea to inspect your hose reels when you buy them to see how they should look, then keep an eye on them over time.

Should you feel confident enough to try and fix it on your own, Do It Yourself has an article on the subject that’ll walk you through the steps of repairing a hose reel. 

In addition, if your garden hose reel’s plastic legs or handles are broken, you may be able to glue it with Gorilla or Crazy glue. Both can be found at your local hardware store and are rather straightforward to use—all you have to do is apply the glue and hold the broken pieces together for a few minutes.

Suppose you decide to use glue, then be careful not to get it on your hands. While you can remove some types of glue with soap, others might require solvents that can be bad news for your skin.

If you can’t fix your hose reel on your own, you’ll likely be out of luck. While you can try and take it to a home improvement store and ask for help, a repair job is not guaranteed. Also, if your hose reel didn’t cost much, it might not be worth the cost of getting it repaired, either.

What Should I Do With My Old Hose Reels?

So, what options are left to you if you can’t repair your old hose reels? What should you do with them?

You should throw away your old hose reels if you didn’t find a manufacturer or facility to recycle them, especially if they’re damaged. There’s no point in holding onto them. It’s sad when recyclable items are thrown away, but sometimes no nearby facilities that can handle them are available.

Recycling facilities will eventually evolve and catch up regarding certain recyclable objects. But until then, you need to find some way to dispose of your hose reels—and your only available option, other than repurposing them on your own, is a landfill.

There are ways you can repurpose your old hose reels as decorative objects or other useful items. For example, you can use them to easily store extension cords or air hoses, such as in this YouTube video by This Old House.

How To Prepare Your Plastic Garden Hose Reel for Disposal

Now, how do you prepare your plastic garden hose reel for disposal? Do you need to take it apart? And, do you need to take it to a landfill yourself?

To prepare your plastic garden hose reel for disposal, follow the steps below:

  1. Drain the hose reel with gravity or compressed air.
  2. Remove sharp metal parts or broken edges that could cut disposal workers.
  3. Check your local garbage disposal schedule for instructions.

You don’t need to take your garden hose reel apart, but if a garden hose is attached to your reel, you need to drain it. It’s the same process used to prepare it for freezing temperatures, and you can use gravity or compressed air to do so, as detailed in Eley Hose Reels’ article.

But what about your municipal waste collection services? Will they take your hose reel, or do you need to take it to the landfill yourself?

Well, check their website for instructions on when, where, and how to set your hose reel out for collection. They’re likely to have instructions specifically for garden hose reels, as garden hose reels are common home objects.

Is It Possible To Recycle Garden Hoses?

What about the garden hose attached to your reel? Can that be recycled?

It’s not possible to recycle garden hoses for the time being. Attempting to recycle them poses risks to the machinery that processes them. They’re called “tangle hazards” and can damage the recycling machinery and even injure recycling workers.

It’s essential that when disposing of waste, we keep the humans behind the service in mind. Recycling and waste disposal workers can be injured by what we leave in—or leave out—of our trash, so always follow recycling guidelines.


Plastic garden hose reels are recyclable, but most bylaws prohibit doing so. Manufacturers do recycle them, but only for distributors. Dispose of your hose reels after draining them via your municipal disposal services. Your garden hoses themselves are a tangle hazard and therefore not recyclable.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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