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January 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 39, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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How About Recycling Your Old Dive Gear?

from the January, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Reader Sandra Quick (Grand Rapids, MI) wrote us with this question. "I have old regulators, BCs, wetsuits, fins, etc. Is there any place that would accept this stuff? Most places don't want the liability, but I can't imagine some of it can't be salvaged. Help! I need some space, as I hope Santa is bringing me new gear."

Unfortunately, there isn't a simple way to recycle dive gear. The best bet is to first contact the manufacturer -- many are putting together recycling programs for their gear. While some companies will take their obsolete products back for free, others require you to upgrade to a newer product before they'll recycle. The gear easiest for them to recycle are BCDs, regulators, dive computers and instruments. Of course, whether companies use what you give them or just trash it is another question.

Second, ask your dive shop. Many have trade-in and resale programs for some dive gear. But those most likely to be tossed are rubber products -- masks, fins and wetsuits -- because there's often no place that recycles that material in small quantities.

Tanks are easier to recycle and therefore more likely to be taken back by dive shops. Aluminum tanks made after 1990 can often be re-certified and put back into use. If they're beyond repair, Jack Kuhn of Harbor Diving Center in Sausalito, CA, says he can still take them. "I have a few guys who like to cut them up and make bells and gongs out of them." Aspiring artists can get good ideas, from lamps to BBQ grills, in Fred Garth's article "Tubular Reincarnation: Uses for a Dead Scuba Tank," in the January 2012 issue of Australian magazine Scuba Sport (it's available to read for free at ScubaBoard; just type "tubular reincarnation" in the search box).

If your gear still has some life in it, consider re-selling it online at eBay. Donate it to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill Store, where profits go to job-training efforts and career services. (Some don't accept dive gear, so ask beforehand.) Or donate your gear to a nonprofit organization that uses divers, like your local aquarium.

Finally, local recycling centers remove useful metals from electronics and other products - that might be the most certain way to ensure what's useable doesn't just get trashed. Check the website for the scrap metal recycler nearest you.

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