Can You Recycle Tarps? Yes and No

It's a question we get asked more often than you'd probably think. Are blue plastic tarps recyclable? Does the color of the tarp even matter? And what do you do with your old tarps once you're done with them? Do you just toss them in the trash?

The answer isn't as simple as yes or no. And as we're going to discuss shortly, the real question isn't whether or not you can recycle tarps, but whether you even need to in the first place.

Plastic recycling is a tricky subject to navigate. Some recycling facilities accept plastics, and some don't. Some local, county, and State recycling programs are more inclusive and have wider reaches than others. And there's real daylight in terms of size between poly tarps and the plastic bags you get from grocery stores, too; you can't just pop a tarp into a typical recycling bin, since it won't actually fit.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers online resources to help you learn more about recycling. Recycle Now has great resources to help you find recycling programs in your area. And Freecycle focuses more on the "reuse" portion of "reduce, reuse, recycle" by encouraging it's 9+ million users to give out things for free other users, rather than scrapping or trashing them. But what if you don't need to get rid of your old tarp? What if recycling your old tarp isn't even necessary?

Why Recycle When You Can Reuse It? How to Clean a Tarp

Are blue plastic tarps recyclable? Yes ... but you shouldn't do it unless you really have toYour tarp may be dirty or faded, but does that mean it needs to be tossed? In most cases, not at all. Tarps are more durable than you probably realize, especially the heavy duty commercial grade tarps and drop cloths we sell at Tent and Table.

Most of the time, people get rid of tarps that are still in perfectly good shape, chalking them up as yard waste as soon as they get a little dirty. But cleaning a poly tarp is actually quite easy. All it takes is a bucket, some warm water, some dish soap, and a little bit of elbow grease.

Cleaning a Tarp is as simple as spraying it down with a hose, scrubbing some soapy water into it, and then rinsing it off. We recommend using regular unbleached dish soap for cleaning your tarp; bleach can fade the color of your tarp significantly, and other materials can damage plastic, so simple dish soap is almost always the way to go. Only use bleach if the tarp has mold or mildew on it, and only use bleach on those affected areas.

If the tarp looks worn in a particular area, test if it's still waterproof by pouring some water on it. If it's still dry inside, the tarp is still working fine. You'll find that commercial tarps will keep working fine, usually for years on end, even after they start to look worn. And most forms of solid waste are easily cleaned off, extending the tarp's shelf life and preventing long-term damage.

Are Blue Plastic Tarps Recyclable? Maybe. Are They Reusable? Definitely.

Whether you can recycle plastic tarps or not depends on your local ordinances. Call a recycling collection center if you can't find the information you're after online. But you can almost definitely find ways of keeping your tarp and using it beyond its intended purpose, too.

A commercial poly tarp can be re-purposed very easily from one intended use to another. You can clean a tarp easily without needing special tools, and using only household cleaning supplies. You can fold them and store them for future use, or give them to someone else so they can use them.

The question isn't whether or not you can recycle a tarp. The bigger question is whether the tarp is damaged so severely it no longer serves its purpose. Then, and only then, you should recycle it. So are blue plastic tarps recyclable. Maybe, depending on local ordinances and the policies of local recycling collection centers. But should you recycle a tarp? Only if the damage is pretty severe. Otherwise, you're doing more harm than good.