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Recycling plastic kayaks

Recycling plastic kayaks

What are recyclable kayaks? Well, here is all about recycling plastic kayaks.

The most general question by those unfamiliar with different kayak types or for those who are just simply unaware of the miraculous procedure that repurposes and recycles these water boats is hereby answered. Among other innocent questions: Can any kayak be recycled? What material is it made from? Is every part of plastic kayaks eco-friendly and recyclable? The first few questions asked, by those concerned with the environment. How to get started? Now these are my kind of people. Not to worry! All shall be answered in due time…and by that, we mean right below!


Most likely, yes. If not directly then in a movie, otherwise any sort of boat race. Recyclable kayaks are no different than others. These are often lightweight, made out of fiber glass or plastic. Just look at any person rowing the boat was half submerged in the water. The person would be completely dry and the boat had space to fit the legs. How can something so glorious not be recycled? Recycled plastic waste is repurposed for everything from clothes, to bottles to roof insulation. It would be a waste (excuse the irony) to not recycle your kayak if you are planning to upgrade to a new one.

My first kayak I remember I did not think of recycling. But, in my defense I gave it away to a younger cousin. Although I am sure that this homebody never used it. But, THAT embarrassingly enough took a long time to figure out. I could have given it off to a charity or for a facility that will reuse the plastic but I thought perhaps I can introduce this lost child of earth to nature. That’s what I get for living in selective ignorance. But, hearing about the kayak recycling process: EUREKA MOMENT. 

What can I do with an old plastic kayak?

What else? Can't use it or want to get your hands on a new one? Then do it! The recycled materials will reduce landfill or ocean plastic waste, it will help build new products and contribute to the circular economy. So let's learn the basics, shall we. 

Average Lifespan of a Kayak

The average lifespan of a kayak is up to 8-14 years. Pretty long, right? But if you don’t have enough occasions to use it, then even 8-14 years don’t seem enough. Not to mention that you also need to keep up its maintenance, since exposure to UV radiation can degrade the material. Sounds like hard work but no real-passionate hobby has ever worked out by being lazy. Once the life of your boat is done or if somewhere in the middle you have outgrown it and you are looking to upgrade then go visit a recycler and let them do their magic for you.

Old kayaks, putting emotions aside

These are pretty eco-friendly. They don’t use gasoline or oil and make no sound, so there is not a lot of risk of disrupting the ecosystem! How do you ecosystem lovers like that!? This means that any old plastic boat that is past its intended expiry dates can be recycled as well. You just need to make sure that the company is a valid one. But that’s more on you than the kayak itself.

Refurbishing these babies, Breathing new life into them

It is not impossible to repurpose your existing kayak. You can sand your worn out kayaks and then grab a heat gun to restore their bodies. But, it will not fix any major holes or leaks if there are any. This will only give you a band aid fix. So, rather than trying to be a DIY boss you should either let a professional handle the process of remediation or let go of your fond water carrier and replace it with a new sturdy one.

Are kayaks made of polyethylene?

Polyethylene is a thermoplastic polymer with a variable crystalline form and a vast range of applications depending on the particular type. This type of plastic is the most common and widely used type of plastic and most of these are made of this material but like with all products made from the same material, it all comes down to the quality.

What kind of plastic is my kayak made of?

The polyethylene used to make the boats have 3 different grades, meaning 3 different quality types:

  1. High-Density Linear Polyethylene HDPE

  2. Medium Density Linear Polyethylene MDPE

  3. Low-Density Linear Polyethylene LDPE

Chances are your kayak is made of either one of these or of a blend of these. Each type of these materials is fully recyclable.


This grade is the most expensive of the three but with good reason. It is the hardest PE to mould but also gives the best results. This plastic creates the most durable, more-flexible items and is highly recyclable. Where other grade plastics risk being deformed due to high temperatures, this grade is the least affected. Can it deform? Yes! but that doesn’t mean you should give up using things though. No one is perfect and neither are the products they create. Focus on the good features and get yourself the boat that works for you.


While HDPE is the most desired quality, it is not the most affordable. Most manufacturers mould MDPE to make them. This is because the quality is decent enough and while not the cheapest, it is in the accessible range. Is it cheap? No. Is it reasonably priced? Yes. Especially for the durability it offers.


This is the easiest to mould at low temperatures and as the order goes, the lowest priced as well. It is not the strongest plastic grade of the three and, has the worst impact and abrasion resistance. It does give a smoother look to the body if that’s what you personally prefer.


Of course! Just because polyethylene is the most used material, does not mean it is the only one. There is also:

  1. Polyvinyl chloride PVC

  2. Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene thermoform


This type of material is ideal for inflatable kayaks. It is an affordable material and available. This is because it’s easy to manufacture and the easiest to transport. You can simply deflate it for transportation and inflate it once you want to use it.


This type of plastic is stiffer and lighter than Polyethylene. It is also impact resistant. This makes it an ideal material for lightweight kayaks. Kayaks made from this material give higher performance. So if you are not satisfied with Polyethylene, you can give this material a try.

Now, between me and you, I did not know there were more types of kayak materials other than polyethylene. It was a while back when I became worried about the speed of my kayak and my ability, or lack thereof, so, I decided to make up for it by researching different types and that’s how I actually learned about some top-tier kayaks.


And its conveniently diverse selection. They have canoes, paddles and other stuff too but my main concern was the kayaks. Funnily enough, for me I can't choose one, so I ended up getting both types for our social adventures.

In case you are curious, their polyethylene kayaks are under the Hard Plastic option. I personally prefer their inflatable kayak selection, more specifically, the KXONE SLIDER. What can I say? I like red. While I was looking through their many kayaks, another type happened to catch my eye. THE FISHING KAYAK.

Even if you are not much of a fisher, it is still recommended. The PEDAL PRO FISH collection will help you focus on your fish rather than on the mechanics of kayaking. It is very durable and offers a good range of eye pleasing aesthetics. The tandem style also gives you the option to have company on your adventure. Also, the prices seem to be decent and that was WITHOUT the sale they had going on.

It even has a lengthy and easy-to-understand guidance page for any questions. Is there anything else that you need to know about other than it's stability, speed and silence on the water? Nope, not really. The human mind works in mysterious ways though so go knock yourself out.

Tear it down or send it whole?

Now this is a major question. Kayaks are larger than your avergae recycled plastic waste. You can not toss them into bins. So what do you do? Do you grab a saw to make disposable chunks? Certainly not.

A lot of recycling businesses on the market give value added services such as pick up. So call the facility and have it picked up. Another idea, would be to drop it off.

Just check up where they are located and drop it off. This can be a more delicate way of bidding farewell to your old friend. Recycling facilities often repurpose, repair and donate items as well. In other cases, they will churn the plastic and use the recycled material to mold new items. Who knew your trustee friend could be used for manufacturing other items. Well, now you know. 

Products recyclers love:

What are other products you can recycle besides plastic? Find your answer below:

  1. Glass and fiberglass products

  2. Paper and carboard

  3. Tin or aluminum

  4. Cloth or fabric materials

So, if any of your boat accessories fall into these categories you should send them over too. Engineering labs will love just about anything in these categories. Paddles, oars, rows, fishing nets, broken campware, fishing rods, a boat, baskets or even bags.

Alright! That’s enough about that. At the end of the day, all questions come down to whether it is eco-friendly. Which is just another way of asking, is it recyclable?

So yes, once again, Kayaks are recyclable. They are plastic and plastic is recyclable.

So go for it, save the planet that never ceases to give us an escape into its soothing wilderness. Kayaking is fun, and fun can always be responsible and mindful. No institution on earth wants larger a waste stream. So go be the change in the world that you wish to see.

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