Can a Tarp Be Recycled?

After a lot of use, your tarp is worn, faded, or damaged. You need to dispose of it. You wonder can you recycle a tarp? You may end up having to find your city or town’s recycling guide for a firm answer. Each city or town is a little different. A great resource for finding a place to recycle your tarp is a recycling search tool called RecycleNation. However if your home is in Chicago, we can help you out with more info on recycling tarps as well as some great ways to repurpose tarps.

A Guide to Chicago’s Blue Cart Program

In Chicago, only plastics #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 can be recycled. Any plastic that is not identified with a number or is #6 must go into the trash. Tarps fall into the “trash it” category as it is rare for them to be stamped with one specific number.

If you search the national database Earth911, as the City of Chicago recommends, to see who may take used tarps, expect to find no results. No companies or organizations accept tarps according to that site.

You will have to toss your tarp into the trash. In the City of Chicago, bag the tarp with your other trash and put it into your curbside trash container.

Ways to Repurpose an Old or Unwanted Tarp

What if you really don’t want to toss an entire tarp in the trash? It’s understandable. While that tarp is no longer serving its original purpose, it doesn’t mean it’s useless. Repurposing an old tarp is one way to keep it from filling up your trash. Try out our handy ways to reuse a tarp.

1. Raised Bed Gardening

Do you garden? If you’ve ever thought about gardening or love to garden, raised beds make it easier to avoid excessive weeds and insect pests. Cut the unwanted tarp to fit the bottom of the raised bed. It will help kill the weeds and grass below your garden area. If you’re worried about water building up and causing root rot, a layer of crushed stone and sand will help with drainage.

2. Sandbox Bottom

Secure a section of the trimmed tarp to the bottom of a child’s sandbox. It will deter ants from trying to turn the sandbox into their home. The tarp will also keep grass and weeds from growing into the sandbox.

3. Sun Shade

Speaking of sandboxes, how about taking a smaller section of tarp and attaching each corner to four bamboo poles. You’ll find these poles in garden supplies or home improvement stores. Place that tarp over a sandbox or child’s pool to keep children from getting too much sun.

4. Waterproof Pillows

How much of the tarp is in good shape? If there are sections that are okay, cut those areas into squares of equal size. Sew two squares together on three sides. Turn the material inside out and fill with material like foam beads or polyfill stuffing. Sew up the remaining side. You have a waterproof pillow for your outdoor deck or patio furniture.

5. Charcoal Grill or  Patio Fire Pit Cover

Take your large tarp and cut it down to fit over an outdoor patio fire pit or charcoal grill. In between uses, your fire pit or grill stays dry. When it’s time for your next fire, everything is dry and kindling will ignite quickly. You also help prevent rust.

6. Firewood Tote

Take a strip of canvas. Aim for a strip that’s about 4 by 3 feet. Sew all of the edges and add handles on each shorter end using a thick section of rope. When you’re carrying in firewood, you have a log carrier that is durable and easy to use.

7. Fall/Winter Shrub Protectors

Do you have any shrubs that are close to the road? Salt and sand during the winter can damage trees and shrubs. Use old tarps to cover them and protect them from winter damage.

Donate the Tarp

Could someone else use the tarp? Post an add in a community forum, Craigslist, or on social media. Ask area schools if they could use it for student craft projects. You’d be surprised how many people can take a worn tarp and put it to good use.

Some of the places you can call to see if they need tarps are paint contractors. Tarps make great drop cloths. You can check with local daycares if they need used tarps to create shady areas. Ask at local farms, too. Gardeners often need tarps to cover seedlings during an unexpected frost.

Make Sure the Tarp You Buy is Built to Last

The best way to keep tarps from filling up landfills is by making sure you get a high-quality tarp that will last a long time. Chicago Canvas & Supply sells many tarps using different materials. We have canvas, clear PVC, Iron Horse polyester, mesh, poly, and vinyl tarps. Call us to learn more or complete the online form to get a custom quote.

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