Old ropes are cool. Remember the neon-bright colored ones from the 90s? Some of that old rope served me very good as a top rope, coiled away in a drawer, ready to be picked up whenever I needed a backup. But after the 3rd new rope, you will end up with LOTS of leftovers. Time to find other ways to get rid of it and recycling is the eco-friendly way I would prefer.
Can climbing rope be recycled? Yes, it can be recycled, but not in a normal recycling facility. To recycle old climbing rope, there are multiple rope manufacturers that offer to recycle for free: Sterling, Millet, and PMI. Some even pay you for your old rope if you buy a new one!
Everyone loves getting new climbing ropes. A new rope is a wonderful thing, and especially if your old rope is worn out, it’s probably safer to replace it. There are tons of good climbing rope manufacturers, but what I was wondering the other day as if it’s possible to recycle their ropes. Not everyone wants to keep old rope, and after cutting parts of it for some obligatory uses, I was still left with 100 feet of leftovers. I am by no means an expert in climbing rope manufacturing or recycling, so I did some research, and this is what I found out.
Can climbing rope be recycled in your normal garbage bin?
But what if you don’t want to send the rope into a manufacturer. I was wondering if you could maybe just use the normal recycling methods to recycle it? For most states in the US, the answer is NO; curbside programs will likely not accept nylon rope. But if you live in Europe, Germany, for example, chances are high there are some local recycling plants or programs you can give your old climbing rope to.
Climbing rope is nothing but old nylon fabric. So you can donate your worn-out rope to an organization that uses old fabric to supplies it to artists and schools. Examples are organizations like Materials for the Arts in New York and the Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC. These organizations are always happy to accept old nylon fabric, and the chances are high that you have a local organization close by if you live in a metropolitan area.
What else can I do with my old climbing rope?
If you cannot find an organization that accepts old nylon rope, you can just think about some other ways to use it. Recycling is great, but the general idea is to find good use of old materials. Recycling is one way to find a good use for old climbing rope, but you could also just re-use or upcycle it.
Make your climbing rope last longer
If you want to avoid having to recycle your new climbing rope, then the easiest way is not to buy a new rope. This means you need to find a way to keep your old climbing rope in good working condition longer. An easy way is always to store your rope inside a rope bag, and if you go climbing, but the climbing rope bag beneath it. Nothing destroys a rope faster than a full day at the crag with the rope lying in the dirt, rubbing sand and stones all over it, and stepping on it with your shoes.
You should also be gentle with it when you wash it, preferably washing it with lukewarm water only, and letting it dry in the air. NEVER throw your rope in the dryer – that’s the fast lane to killing the durability of the rope, as nylon does not take the heat of a dryer well. Keep your light outside of the sunlight, too, as this damages it! And read my other article about things to keep away from climbing rope, you can find it here.
Upcycle your old climbing rope instead of recycling
What is upcycling, you might ask. This definition is spot on, and it basically states that you find a new use for something old in a creative way. Upcycling is basically the opposite of cycling down. Cycling down means to convert material and products into raw materials of lesser quality. This is usually done when you recycle something, as you break the nylon apart into small particles and reuse these particles. But upcycling means you create a new product from the old materials that are of higher quality.
Upcycle your old climbing rope: Make a rope rug
What are some good ideas to upcycle old climbing rope? You can weave a rope rug. This video here is a great tutorial:
Can you use an old climbing rope as a tow rope?
It turns out you can. There are multiple reports of people using an old climbing rope as a towing rope. It’s another great idea, you can just take multiple strains, and it will be very strong, strong enough to tow a car. Just run it backward and forwards 4 to 6 times, which will reduce the load on individual strains and minimize stretch. Minimizing stretch is important if you use your old climbing rope as a towing rope, as you don’t want the towed car dangling behind your tow car on 50 feet of elastic cord!
Use the old climbing rope as a super strong dog leash
This might be overkill, but I found that using the old rope like a dog leash works super good. Thanks to the material of the climbing rope, the dog leash has some nice stretch if needed, but is still strong enough even if you have a big and powerful dog. And it’s a great money-saver if you need a long leash for dog training!
What to do with old climbing ropes?
- Old climbing rope DIY projects
- Rope rug
- Dog leash.
- Beer koozies
- Ladder from rope
- Chalk Bag
- Scratch post for your cat
IF you need some more ideas about what to build with your old climbing rope, check out this other post about 24 great ideas for DIY projects with old climbing rope. Find it here.
How long are climbing ropes good for?
Polyamide (Nylon) fibers, which ropes are made from, break down over time. Replace old climbing rope after 10 years, no matter how rarely you used it. Replace it after 5 years if you used it often!
Can you rappel with a dynamic climbing rope?
Yes, you can. A static rope is easier for rappeling, as it gives you more control, but a dynamic rope works fine too. They have more stretch, and it might take some time to get used too, but they are safe to rappel with. Never try climbing with static rope though, a static rope is not made for situations with high-impact forces like a fall!