Recycled plastic furniture is a wonderful example of how garbage can be transformed into a new and wonderful product.
Essentially, recycled plastics are extruded into lumber shaped pieces, which are then used to build pretty much anything that you would build out of lumber.
You can even get recycled plastic planters to match your recycled plastic furniture.
I promise to go over the advantages of this recycled plastic furniture, but first I want to tell you a little about the process.
From milk jug to Adirondack chair
High-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is labelled as plastic #2, is one of the most commonly used plastics in the US.
Your milk jug, for example, is likely made out of HDPE. Find out more about HDPE in this video:
When the milk jug is collected by the curbside recycling program, it will get sorted with all other #2 plastics.
The recovered HDPE is cleaned, shredded and ground into HDPE pellets. Unlike some plastic products, processing HDPE has minimal environmental impact and as HDPE recycling is often done at a local level, it is a product that is readily available.
The pellets are then melted down and mixed with pigments and UV stabilizers and then extruded into lumber shapes.
It takes about 240 milk jugs to make one Adirondack chair.
Advantages of recycled plastic furniture
- The most obvious advantage is that recycling replaces the need to harvest natural resources (deforestation) or manufacture new plastics.
- As I mentioned, HDPE is readily available and, unlike some plastics, there is minimal environmental manufacturing impact.
- The furniture products are non-toxic, containing no hazardous chemicals that can contaminate soil or water and no PVC.
- This furniture is highly durable. It can last 5 times longer than regular wood and, in fact, some manufacturers offer a limited 50-year guarantee with their products they are so confident in the durability.
- Unlike wood, recycled plastic furniture is very low maintenance. It doesn’t require paint or varnish.
- You still have the advantage of using the material like wood as it can be cut, drilled, nailed, screwed, bolted and stapled. I’m not sure what you plan on doing with your furniture, but perhaps this might be important to you!
- Recycled plastic is insect, mold and animal resistant.
- It’s easy to clean.
- It will resist even the most determined graffiti artist.
- It is resistant to the effects of UV and saltwater.
- The color doesn’t fade due to the UV stabilizers that are added during the manufacturing process.
- Recycled plastic furniture is fully recyclable at the end of its life…as far into the future as that might be.
Two disadvantages…there had to be something right?!
It’s really heavy and it’s really expensive.
An Adirondack chair will probably weigh about 50-60 lbs. That’s pretty substantial, so you don’t necessarily want to be moving this furniture about frequently. Of course, this might also be seen as an advantage if you live in wind-prone areas. You’re less likely to find your patio furniture in the neighbour’s yard with these heavy pieces.
There’s also a cost associated with a 50-year warrantee. A recycled plastic Andirondack chair will run you around $300 USD, compared with the equivalent wood version at around $100. However, if you consider that there is no maintenance and that you will likely only have to buy one set and still be able to leave it to loved ones in your Will, it might be worth the price tag.
Despite the cost, recycled plastic furniture for your patio has many advantages over traditional wood options. The fact that it is reducing deforestation and making use of a waste product is likely reason enough to make the investment.