Can you recycle old motorcycle helmets?

This article discusses the various methods one can use for recycling their old motorcycle helmet. We also discuss alternatives for disposing of old motorcycle helmets.

Can you recycle old motorcycle helmets?

No, motorcycle helmets cannot be recycled by your curbside recycling program. 

Because of all the numerous components required to build a helmet, like the plastic shell and the ESP foam lining, you can’t take it down to the local recycling centre in the traditional method, but there are plenty of alternative things you can do with it instead of throwing it in the trash.

Recycling motorcycle helmets

If you don’t want to throw away your helmet but don’t want it to sit around your house, recycling it is a great option. Check with your local recycling facilities to determine whether they can accept such an item.

Every component of a helmet should be made of recyclable materials. Even if you never see that helmet again, you’ll know it’s not collecting dust in your garage and is being transformed into and utilised for something else.

What are the constituents of a Helmet?

The helmet constitutes of three parts which include:

  • Outer Shell covering
  • Inner layer
  • Cloth/Fabric Liner or Comfort Liner

We shall discuss them in brief.

Outer Shell covering

This is the outermost layer of a helmet that forms and absorbs the impact of a collision. Fiberglass, composite fibre, kevlar, polycarbonate, and carbon fibre are just a few of the tough materials that may be used for the exterior shell.

Despite their widespread use, thermoplastic polymers such as ABS and polycarbonate have been accused of being easily damaged by UV radiation. 

Photo-oxidative degradation, which is generated by extended UV exposure, will cause polycarbonate to disintegrate.

Stabilizers or inhibitors, on the other hand, are used in the production process and are either added to the primary resin or the specific coating.

Inner layer

We might consider the inner layer of the helmet to be the most significant portion of the helmet because it is responsible for absorbing the shock from a possible accident.

A collision or crash’s intensity is reduced by the inner layer. Through its shock-absorbing liner materials, the Inner Liner protects your head from any potential harm by lowering the pace of impact. 

The inner lining materials should have strong shock-absorbing properties. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), often known as a thermocouple, is the most typical inner lining material.

Cloth/Fabric Liner or Comfort Liner


This layer is the comfort cushion that comes into touch with the user’s head and skin, as its name suggests. 

Because this layer comes into contact with the skin, it must be constructed of a soft, durable material that can readily absorb moisture, perspiration, and oils while also being non-irritating, such as cloth or fabric.

It’s vital to investigate if the helmet components deteriorate given that we know what they are. The helmet is mainly made up of these components. As a result, if one portion fails, the helmet is no longer as good as it once was.

Other ways to dispose of old motorcycle helmets

There are numerous options when it comes to disposing of your old motorcycle helmet in a safe manner. You can also repurpose it for other activities. Some of these alternatives are:

  • Use As Decoration
  • Practice Your Painting Skills
  • Test Out It’s Durability
  • Donate It To A School
  • Take It Apart and See What’s Inside
  • Donate It To Emergency Services
  • Turn It Into An Easter Basket
  • Turn It Into A Dish
  • Give It To Someone Who Never Wears A Helmet

We shall discuss these in more detail.

Use As Decoration

Motorcycle helmets, believe it or not, may be used as ornamental items. You might think it sounds a little trashy, but there are a couple ways to accomplish it in a more refined manner.

I’ve seen people adapt their motorbike helmets into lamps, for example. It’s simple and simply necessitates drilling a hole in the helmet. It’d be a great addition to any workplace or man cave.

You might also try displaying all of your helmets in your garage. I’ve known folks who have lined up or hung their helmets on their garage wall in an orderly fashion, and it looks amazing.

This works especially well if you have a collection of old helmets you don’t use any more.

Practice Your Painting Skills

You don’t need to worry about anything aesthetic on your helmet because you won’t be wearing it while riding. If you’re interested in painting your own motorcycle tanks, this means it’s a great location to learn how to start painting and do some body work.

Although a motorbike helmet and a gas tank are obviously not the same, a helmet does have comparable curvatures that would be useful to practise on. 

It also gives you a sense of how the paint will work and how the clear coat will work on top of that, which is especially helpful if you’re going to use a spray can.

Test Out It’s Durability

You never want to be in a scenario where you have to test how well your motorbike helmet functions while riding. 

If you adore a certain brand of motorcycle helmet that you no longer use and want to replace it with one of the same, now is a great moment to put it to the test.

Now is the moment to pound it with a hammer, sand it with a belt sander, or even run your automobile over it. This is a genuine representation of how the helmet would respond if you were to have an accident with the same brand in the future.

You may even want to make a video of it and post it on YouTube to help others decide if it’s durable enough for them.

Donate It To A School

Motorcycle helmets may be useful in a variety of ways, including aiding children’s imaginations. Consider donating your used helmet(s) to any friends who are teachers or who live near elementary schools.

Some teachers will find a variety of applications for something like that, including allowing the students to use it during playtime. 

The kids may dress up as astronauts, cops, and other characters. A contribution like this would be much appreciated by many instructors.

Obviously, you’ll need to clean the helmet completely for sanitary concerns. Teachers that are familiar with you are more likely to accept anything like this because you aren’t a complete stranger to them and (hopefully) know how to keep your classroom clean.

Take It Apart and See What’s Inside

You might be interested in seeing what’s under the foam on the inside of a motorbike helmet. There are a lot of popular YouTube channels dedicated to cutting items in half and showing videos of what it looks like on the inside.

If you have a saw, you may split your old motorbike helmet in two to view what’s going on inside and what elements it had that were protecting you on your previous journeys. Remember to take photographs and videos so that others may enjoy your excitement.

Donate It To Emergency Services

A lot of riders aren’t aware of this choice. Whether you live near a fire station or a police station, inquire if they are in need of helmet contributions.

Emergency personnel do not utilise donated helmets to protect their own heads; instead, they use them to practise caring for persons who are wearing helmets. 

They frequently practise removing a helmet from an injured individual carefully. Motorcyclists are the most probable sort of person who will be wearing a helmet in an emergency, thus a motorbike helmet would be an excellent contribution.

You’ll want to make sure your helmet is clean once again as a courtesy. You might want to replace the cushioning inside. It will be worn by others, so keeping it clean is a good gesture. 

This can also provide a rider a sense of accomplishment, knowing that their helmet is assisting emergency personnel in learning how to assist other motorcyclists in need.

Turn It Into An Easter Basket


This may sound a little strange, but a motorbike helmet transformed into an Easter basket may look pretty amazing if done correctly. 

This is especially useful if you have multiple motorbike enthusiasts in your family who would appreciate such a gift.

It’s actually fairly simple to turn a motorbike helmet into an Easter basket. You may need to flip it upside down and remove part of the inside surface cushioning (this also helps with cleanliness). 

To protect the helmet from rolling, attach something to the bottom, such as a peanut butter bottle lid. This would have any rider thrilled for the upcoming spring break.

Turn It Into A Dish

It’s feasible to repurpose your old motorbike helmet into a dish, as strange as that may sound. Obviously, the types of dishes you can make with it are restricted, but there are a few culinary applications for it.

A popcorn bowl is one of my favourite things I’ve seen a helmet converted into. 

The majority of the lining inside has to be removed, cleaned, and a new protective lining installed to prevent anything from seeping out (especially for those ventilated helmets).

Watching a movie while wearing a motorbike helmet and eating popcorn somehow improves the experience.

Give It To Someone Who Never Wears A Helmet

Riding a motorbike without a helmet is dangerous; if you don’t wear one, you might end up in a dangerous position that will affect the rest of your life.

That’s probably why you’re looking into what to do with old helmets because you’re aware that they wear out and you’ll need a new one soon.

Of course, some motorcyclists refuse to wear a helmet for a variety of reasons, including aesthetics, annoyance, and so on. If you have an old helmet that is beyond its expiration date, consider donating it to a friend or relative who never wears one.

Even though it’s out of date and presumably won’t perform as well as a new helmet, it’s better than nothing. Because it was free, the helmet-less cyclist could be more inclined to use it on future rides.

Conclusion

Old motorcycle helmets can be recycled, although not conventionally. All the components used for making a motorcycle helmet are easy to recycle.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to recycle, there are numerous options available for repurposing an old motorcycle helmet, or by donating it to those in need.

FAQs

How Long Do Motorcycle Helmets Last?

Helmets, like most things, have an expiry date. Every motorcycle rider should be aware that their helmet should be replaced every five years. The concept of a motorbike helmet’s expiry isn’t simply a myth; it’s a science in and of itself.

From a larger perspective, it appears that the five-year limit was established by helmet manufacturers in order to sell more helmets. 

The Snell Foundation, on the other hand, promotes it. Helmets degrade with time as the materials, glues, and liners lose their effectiveness.

Face oils, make-up, hair products, and cleaning chemicals all hasten this process, and it eventually reaches a point where it’s no longer safe to use.

Can motorcycle helmets be used after an accident?


According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, wearing a motorcycle helmet after an accident, no matter how nice it looks, is not recommended. 

It’s likely that the helmet was damaged in some way, reducing its efficiency in the event of another accident.

Do motorcycle helmets expire if not used?

Yes. Manufacturers recommend replacing it every 7 years from the date of manufacture and after 5 years of usage, regardless of how it appears. 

Look for a date stamp on the inside of your helmet to see when it was made. The date will be put on a label in the format YY/MM/DD.

References

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