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How to Dispose of Playground Equipment


Table of Contents

To dispose of playground equipment, dismantle and separate materials for recycling. Metals, plastics, wood, and rubber each have specific recycling processes. For eco-friendly disposal, you can also consider donating or upcycling.

Explore more about how to dispose of playground equipment and their environmental impact in our comprehensive guide.

Disposing of Wooden Playground Equipment 

Let’s start with playground equipment made of wood. Remember that whether you’re repurposing the wood or disposing of it, understanding the type of wood and its treatment is crucial for making informed decisions that align with eco-friendly practices.

wood playground equipment

Here are the steps to follow when disposing of them:

Assess Safety Concerns and Research Equipment

When tackling the removal of wooden playground equipment, your first step should be a thorough safety check. Look for any potential hazards, such as weakened wood, rusted metal parts, or protruding nails. Understanding the condition of the equipment helps determine the best approach for dismantling and disposal.

Remember, different types of wood have varying durability. Species like Robinia and European oak exhibit high resistance and are commonly utilized in outdoor playground equipment. On the other hand, spruce and birch woods have lower natural durability and typically require treatment with preservatives for protection.

Dismantling the Equipment: Using Tools Like Crowbars

Dismantling wooden playground equipment can be a physically demanding task. Start by removing any detachable accessories, like swings or slides. Then, focus on the larger wooden structures. Tools like crowbars are effective for prying apart wooden beams and detaching metal parts.

When using tools, ensure safety measures such as wearing gloves and protective eyewear. If the structure is large or complex, it might be wise to involve professional crews or demolition contractors who have the right expertise and equipment. They can safely dismantle and manage the removal process without posing risks to themselves or the environment.

Dealing with Nails and Sharp Objects

Be especially attentive to nails and other sharp objects that may be embedded in the wood. These can pose a serious injury risk during dismantling. Use appropriate tools to carefully remove or hammer down exposed nails.

Inspect the surrounding area for any overlooked fallen nails or sharp debris. This step is crucial for preventing accidents and ensuring a safe work environment.

When disposing of the dismantled wood, it’s important to consider its treatment history. Do not burn wood treated with chemicals, such as chromated copper arsenate (CCA) or alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ), due to the release of toxic substances. Typically, people dispose of such wood in landfills.

For non-chemically treated wood, consider recycling or reusing it in other projects, but always adhere to safety guidelines regarding its use. Contacting local authorities for specific disposal guidelines is recommended to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

old metal slide

Metal Playground Equipment Removal

The following steps ensure that the removal process is safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible:

Evaluating the Condition and Safety of Metal Structures

Before removing metal playground equipment, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough evaluation of its condition and safety. According to the National Program for Playground Safety, compliance with safety standards and regulations, such as those set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and ASTM International, is key to ensuring the safety of playground equipment.

These standards cover various aspects, including structural integrity, materials, and potential hazards like sharp edges or entanglement risks. It’s essential to check that all components are in good condition and that there are no hazards like protruding sharp objects, loose bolts, or compromised support frames.

Detaching and Recycling Metal Components

After ensuring the equipment’s safety and determining its time for removal, focus on detaching metal components. This process typically involves dismantling the equipment using appropriate tools.

Once dismantled, recycling metal components is an environmentally responsible disposal method. Many parts of metal playground equipment, such as steel or aluminum structures, can be recycled effectively. Engaging professional services or local recycling facilities can help ensure that these materials are processed correctly and responsibly.

Utilizing Heavy Machinery for Demolition

When removing metal playground equipment, heavy machinery can be an effective tool, especially for larger structures. Machines like excavators, skid steer loaders, and bulldozers are commonly used in such demolitions. These machines offer efficient and safe removal, minimizing the physical strain on workers.

For example, excavators demonstrate versatility by being able to equip attachments like hydraulic breakers or hammers for breaking up and removing equipment. Skid steer loaders, with their compact size and maneuverability, are ideal for working in confined spaces. 

Using heavy machinery not only speeds up the demolition process but also allows for precise and controlled deconstruction and ensures minimal damage to the surrounding area.

old plastic playground

Disposing of Plastic Playground Equipment

These steps ensure that the disposal process of plastic playground equipment minimizes environmental impact and contributes to the circular economy.

Assessing the Recyclability of Plastic Parts

The first step in disposing of plastic playground equipment is assessing the recyclability of its components. High-density polyethylene (HDPE), commonly found in playgrounds, is one of the easiest materials to recycle. It’s durable and maintains its constitution across a wide range of climates 

Notably, HDPE can be recycled and processed multiple times under controlled conditions. This feature makes it an ideal material for playground equipment, as it is more durable than traditional lumber or steel and can be reused to build new playgrounds or other products.

Breaking Down and Separating Plastic Components

After assessing recyclability, the next step is breaking down and separating the plastic components. This process involves dismantling the playground equipment and sorting the plastic materials into other non-recyclable parts.

Since various types of plastics might be used in the equipment, it’s essential to identify and separate them accordingly. This step is crucial for effective recycling, as different plastics have distinct recycling processes and end uses.

Options for Repurposing Plastic Equipment

Plastic playground equipment can be repurposed into various products. Many manufacturers repurpose recycled plastics to create new playground structures, park benches, decking, and other outdoor furnishings.

Companies like MaxPlayFit and Hideout Play Company manufacture equipment from 100% recycled HDPE, with each structure accounting for thousands of recycled plastic containers. This approach not only helps reduce the environmental impact but also promotes sustainable practices in the community.

Options for Eco-Friendly Disposal of Playground Equipment

Here are some ideas on how you can dispose of old playground equipment in environment-friendly ways:


The process begins with separating materials, which is crucial since playground equipment is often made from a mix of metals, plastics, wood, and rubber. Each material has to be treated differently. 

After separating the materials, the next step is finding recycling facilities that accept these materials. This requires some research, as not all facilities can process all types of materials.

Organizations like KORKAT highlight the benefits of using recycled materials in playground equipment, including cost-effectiveness, quality maintenance, and sustainability. They use reclaimed post-consumer plastic products like milk jugs to create new playground items.


Donating old playground equipment is another eco-friendly disposal method. This option not only prevents waste but also benefits communities. When considering a donation, it’s important to identify suitable recipients, such as schools, churches, or community centers.

Organizations, particularly those lacking the resources for new equipment, can greatly benefit from donated playground structures. It’s essential to ensure that the equipment is still safe and functional before donating.

Large corporations like Walmart, Lowe’s, and Home Depot offer grants for such community projects, including playground refurbishment. Additionally, local churches, preschools, and daycare centers might be interested in upgrading their playgrounds and could be willing to donate their old equipment. Outreach and communication are key to matching up old equipment with new homes.

What to Do With Old Playground Equipment: Upcycling

Upcycling presents creative ways to repurpose old playground equipment and give it a new life in a different form. This approach not only reduces waste but also sparks creativity.

For example, used car tires are popular for transforming into various play equipment pieces. Play huts can be created by converting cracked water tanks, while old steering wheels can bring a play bus to life. Other items, like broken medical equipment or old oil barrels, can be creatively repurposed into play items or decorative elements in a playground.

Upcycling encourages innovative thinking and resourcefulness. It turns what would be waste into valuable and enjoyable new structures. Not only does this approach benefit the environment, but it also adds unique character to play spaces.

upcycling playground equipment

Compliance with Environmental Regulations

Although specific environmental regulations for the disposal of playground equipment may not be explicitly stated, it is crucial to adhere to general environmental guidelines. This includes ensuring that the disposal process does not harm the environment, such as by avoiding contamination of soil and water bodies and ensuring that recyclable materials are processed correctly.

To prevent environmental damage, individuals should recycle metal and plastic components following local recycling guidelines. 

Safe Handling and Transport of Disassembled Equipment

Transporting disassembled playground equipment requires careful planning and execution to ensure safety and compliance with transportation regulations. When choosing a freight company, it’s crucial to select one with experience handling oversized and bulky items like playground equipment.

The company should understand the unique packaging, securing, and handling requirements to ensure safe transportation. Consider the size, weight, fragility, and specific handling requirements of the equipment when selecting a transportation method. 

Typically, local or regional shipments use ground transportation, while urgent or international shipments utilize air freight, and long-distance international shipments rely on ocean freight.

It is crucial to carefully package, secure, and load the playground components onto the appropriate transport vehicle. This will minimize the risk of damage during transit and ensure the safe arrival of the equipment at its destination.

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When to Consider Professional Help

Professional assistance should be considered for the disposal of playground equipment, especially for larger structures that are difficult to dismantle and transport. Handling such a demolition or removal project can be problematic, dangerous, and time-consuming without the proper tools and expertise.

Professional contractors or demolition crews, like us at EZ CleanUp, have the necessary skills and equipment to safely and efficiently handle the removal of any size playground structure. This not only ensures safety but also efficiency in completing the task and allows for the future use of the space without the burden of a complex disposal project.

Professional Playground Equipment Disposal with EZ CleanUp

Understanding your options for disposing of playground equipment is about making space or decluttering, and most importantly, a matter of environmental responsibility. Whether it’s wooden, metal, or plastic equipment, each type requires a specific disposal method that aligns with both legal compliance and environmental preservation.

By exploring various eco-friendly options like recycling, donating, or repurposing, you contribute to a healthier, safer environment. This approach avoids unnecessary waste and pollution and potentially benefits others in your community.

If you find yourself uncertain about how to proceed with disposing of old playground equipment, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at EZ CleanUp. Contact us today!

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