How can I reuse or recycle medical plastic tubing?

We’ve had an email from Janette asking about medical plastic tubing:

I need to know how I might reuse/recycle medical plastic tubing. My husband uses an oxygen tank and the cannula (clear plastic tubing) needs to be changed every two weeks. After the nasal clip is removed, biowaste/garbage – there’s still a ten foot length (3/16″ caliper) of sturdy, clear tubing that I would have to discard. Any ideas?

I live in the USA and the rural county recycling center I use doesn’t recycle this type of plastic.

(3/16 caliper is just under 5mm apparently)

That seems like it would be a really useful thing – the type of thing that would make a welcome addition to any tool kit. Some reuse ideas that spring to mind: using it to (softly) tie plants/trees to supports, wrapped around (and probably glued into place) a tool handle to provide some cushioning and I suspect some clever people could use it for drip-feed watering systems for greenhouses or the like.

It could be used for craft creations in its own right too: I’ve seen people making statement jewellery from tubing before; I’ve been looking at pendant light fittings recently and saw one made from loops of (albeit thicker) tubing; and I wonder if it’s flexible enough to be used for macramé or crochet/knitting – anyone seen any projects that could use lengths of tubing?

(One word of warning: apparently this type of tubing will discolour (yellow) over time when exposed to UV (sun) light.)

Finally, it might be worth containing the medical supply company to see if they’d be willing to take it back for recycling – if enough people ask, they might be compelled to do something.

Any other reusing or recycling ideas?

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8 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle medical plastic tubing?”


  1. Karmae says:

    I used it a few years ago to make handles for a tote bag. I used it as a core for French knitting (spool or cork knitting depending where you are!) it worked like a charm.

  2. Christina P says:

    How ironic. We just cleaned out my Grandmother’s apartment and now we have similar green tubing! We are saving it for tying up plants. I also like the idea of wrapping it around tool handles for cushion. Either way, this is an item to keep!

  3. anna says:

    I would LOVE TO use that type of tubing for both gardening and crafts.

    First, for gardening – I’d love to make a watering system with the tubing and a big container for water. I live in Texas, and it would be very helpful in the summer time, as it would make the garden more self-sufficient. I’d probably be able to use 20-30 feet of that just for my balcony.

    The second use would be for for crafts. Two things come to my mind immediately that I’d love that stuff for – baskets, and crocheting. For a big basket, I’d be able to use a lot of that tubing, probably 100-200 feet.

    Janette, would you be glad to depart of some of that tubing for shipping costs? It’d be perfect for my uses, much better than getting it to waste.

  4. Theresa says:

    My daughter used it too when she was little–I passed it on to preschool teachers for stringing large beads–much easier than wobbly string for little fingers! Cut them in half and you’ll have 2 nice sized pieces and the connector part makes a great stopper for the beads.

  5. Irene says:

    Do you have a scrap store in your area. I’m pretty sure theywould accept it for crafting

  6. Vicki says:

    what about sealing colored water and/or tiny beads,glitter…inside the tubing for …

  7. Jorge says:

    I see that there are a lot of ways to reuse the tubing, but my question is can it be recycled. In other words, can I throw the tubing in a recycling container that takes plastic bottles or would it be considered garbage?



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