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Can pool inflatables be recycled?

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

For those of you that already know about The Rainbow Revival the answer may seem obvious but for those of you who aren't familiar with our products the answer is yes, pool inflatables can be recycled. At The Rainbow Revival we are making it our mission to recycle as many pool inflatables as possible into unique accessories.

In a world where a lot of us are striving to become more environmentally friendly, single-use or disposable plastics are arguably one of the worst pollutants. Sadly each year we are producing hundreds of millions of tons of plastic, most of which isn’t recycled.

Are pool inflatables bad for the environment?

This year has been a challenging year for everyone with this summer being one of the strangest on records. So it probably won’t surprise you to hear that sales of pool inflatables went up nearly 107% percent in some parts of the world this summer as parents desperately sought out ways to keep their children busy and entertained.

But what could be so wrong about buying a couple of fun pool inflatables for your children to enjoy? Well, each of those giant unicorn pool inflatables is made from approximately 3kg of plastic (that’s the same weight as a light bowling ball!), and let’s be honest how long does that inflatable really last when all the kids, Dad and Grandad all get involved? A week, a month? There are thousands of swimming pools across the French Riviera, if we take an average of two inflatables per household you're quickly looking at a single-use plastic waste mountain which weighs the equivalent of a Blue Whale - and that’s JUST from plastic pool inflatables.

What are pool inflatables made from?

Many pool inflatables are made from polyvinyl chloride, otherwise known as PVC, which is a very popular form of synthetic plastic. To make it soft and pliable enough to make inflatables they add plasticizers called phthalates. According to some organisations PVC takes approximately 450 years to decompose and over 55% of these plastics being sent to landfill or burnt into the atmosphere, that’s a pretty terrifying reality. If you consider that Eugen Baumann only invented PVC in Germany in 1970 that means that the first piece of PVC ever made still has 400 years to go before it decomposes.

Can I buy pool inflatables responsibly?

A lot of people believe that single use plastics should be banned completely and we don’t disagree, however that’s not the reality we live in and if it does happen it won’t be for a while. We strongly believe that we can all make steps towards being more environmentally friendly through balance and that’s achieved by making conscious purchasing decisions. In regards to inflatables that means purchasing one or two inflatables next summer instead of 4-5, and most importantly choosing inflatables that we can turn into fun, unique gifts for your family and friends afterwards.

Basically, don’t buy a giant pizza if you don’t want to give a pizza pouch or bag to one of your friends; we really struggle to turn these into appealing accessories. Pretty inflatables such as flamingos and unicorns and/or funky inflatables like 90s cassette tapes, turtles, alligator, tyres, make awesome accessories so as a rule of thumb don’t buy an inflatable that you wouldn't want turned into an accessory for yourself.

Can all pool inflatables be recycled?

Unfortunately not. If the plastic is too stained, ripped, brittle or just downright ugly we will not be able to use it. As you can imagine we receive a lot of inflatables that we can’t use due to the above reasons so we'd greatly appreciate it if you could dispose of these in a responsible way yourselves. Remember, inflatables that are left wet in the garden will rot and stain and become unusable. Also, please don’t drop off inflatables that are covered in thick mud and bird poop, hose them down and dry them first before dropping them off. The time that we are able to save cleaning and processing inflatables will allow us to produce more affordable products for you.

Do other companies recycle inflatables?

If you don’t live in France, there are a handful of companies in other parts of the world recycling pool inflatables into very cool accessories:

United Kingdom - Wyatt & Jack

New Zealand - I Used to Be

South East Asia - The Sea Monkey Project

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