How to Recycle an Umbrella
Umbrellas protect against the UK’s frequent wet and windy weather. The battering they receive from numerous storms adds up after a while though, tearing the material and sometimes snapping their spokes. If you’ve popped up a parasol for the last time or struggled as your umbrella turned inside out once too many, it’s probably time to get rid of it.
Around 1.45 million umbrellas are sold every year in the UK to help keep us dry on those all too common grey and drizzly days. Sales have also increased over the past few years with more than £14 million spent annually on new umbrellas. But what do you do when one reaches the end of its life?
Recycle an umbrella rather than chucking it in the bin where there’s a chance it could end up in landfill. There are various ways to reuse and recover the materials of a broken umbrella. Discover some great umbrella recycling ideas in this guide.
How to recycle
a broken umbrella
There are various types of umbrellas and each one is made from a combination of materials. These usually include a mix of metal, wood, plastic, and fabric. The different materials they contain make umbrellas tricky to recycle. Unfortunately, you can’t simply put them in your household recycling bin.
Don’t throw away a broken umbrella in your general waste bin at home or work either though, as it could end up in landfill. Instead, the best option is to break up an old umbrella into its different materials to recycle them separately at your local household waste recycling centre (HWRC). Separate and recycle each part of your old umbrella:
- Fabric – most umbrellas have a fabric or textile canopy, which you can tear or cut off to separate it from the ribs and stretcher. Recycle this in any textile bins.
- Metal – the main frame parts of most umbrellas are metal including the stretcher, ribs, shaft, and handle. Recycle these in the metal bins at your HWRC.
- Wood – some traditional umbrellas feature a wooden handle and sometimes a shaft too. Remove this and recycle it with other wood waste.
- Plastic – various bits of some umbrellas are made of plastic, like the handle, shaft, end tip, and canopy. Remove any such elements and check if the type of plastic is recyclable. Ask at your HWRC if you’re unsure.
What to do with umbrella covers
You’ll also need to responsibly dispose of the cover as well as the umbrella. This is often a thin piece of fabric similar to the material used for the umbrella’s canopy. Most modern umbrellas have covers made from nylon or polyester but check the material to ensure it’s recyclable.
If it’s made of a type of fabric then you should be able to recycle it with other textiles. Either find a clothing or textile bank or take it to your HWRC and recycle it in the specific textile bin. For any plastic umbrella covers check the plastic type and recycle with other plastics if possible.
Umbrella disposal for businesses
Various businesses can find themselves with umbrellas they need to dispose of as well. It could be shops with excess umbrellas they can’t sell or damaged stock, umbrellas left behind after an event such as a festival, or even manufacturing firms that produce umbrellas having broken items they need to get rid of from a factory.
Umbrellas that any type of business wants to recycle or dispose of class as commercial waste. If your business has lots of old, unused, or broken umbrellas it no longer needs then you must arrange commercial waste collection. Licensed waste carriers will remove them and transport them to a waste management facility for recycling and responsible disposal.
How to fix a
A broken umbrella will be as useful as a chocolate teapot when the next storm comes. Consider fixing it before throwing it away though. It’s always best to reduce waste and reuse before recycling, as it saves resources, time, and effort. How to fix a broken umbrella depends on what parts are damaged.
A few ways to fix a broken umbrella:
- Sew or stitch together the canopy fabric with some thread of the same colour if it’s ripped or torn.
- Use a length of metal wire to bind together dislocated pieces of a broken umbrella rib to get it back into place.
- Put a bit of super glue in the handle hole and hold the handle in place to reattach it – leave it overnight to dry.
Umbrella recycling ideas
There are many ways you can reuse an old or broken umbrella even if it won’t keep the rain or sunshine out any more. Upcycling umbrellas helps to reduce waste, keep them out of landfill, and save on the energy and resources required for recycling. Plus, it puts them to good use in other ways.
Here are a few easy ideas for upcycling by turning your old umbrella into a:
- Light shade – colourful umbrella canopies make wonderful light shades for your living room, hallway, or garage. Keep the ribs in place with the umbrella top open and position it over a bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling for great effect.
- Chandelier – remove the canopy and turn the frame of your old umbrella upside down to form a DIY chandelier. Hang and attach decorative bits to the ribs to add a touch of class.
- Mini greenhouse – transparent plastic umbrella canopies and the ribs are ideal as a cover for precious plants in your garden, acting like a small greenhouse. Remove the shaft and handle and secure it in the ground so it won’t blow away to help plants thrive.
- Hanging basket – simply flip an old umbrella upside down and hang it outside for an easy hanging basket. You can also partially close the umbrella and hang it indoors or outside then fill it with a bouquet of flowers.
- Coat rack – traditional curved umbrella handles make a great coat rack. Remove them from the rest of the umbrella, turn them upside down, and nail them into a small board for a quick and easy coat rack.
- Clothesline – get rid of the canopy and use the metal shaft and ribs of an umbrella as a clothesline either inside or outside. Find something to hang it from, such as a tree or pole. It’s great for drying small items like socks and tea towels.
- Costume – dressing up as Mary Poppins? It doesn’t matter if the umbrella is in working order or not – you’re unlikely to fly away with it anyway. Get creative and use the canopy of an old black umbrella as the wings of a bat for a spooky Halloween costume or transform the fabric into a cape.
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