Product Design

Giving Recycled Plastic a Seat Outdoors

Outfit your backyard staycation this summer with furniture made of recycled plastic.

AUGUST 27, 2020 - Ah, summertime. Time to pack a picnic, grab your favorite chair and enjoy the sunshine in the backyard, at the beach or by the pool. Now, look around. Chances are at least one plastic bag or bottle made its way outdoors with you. When you’re finished with them, though, don’t think of them as trash. While these plastic items already provided initial benefit, they can go on to play many more roles — if you recycle them.

Are you ready to change the way you think about plastic? Plastic in many forms — even that simple plastic bag — is a durable and valuable resource that can be recycled to create new products, like the Adirondack chair you lounge on during the summer.

From recycling to relaxation

For many years, outdoor furniture was typically made from wood, which is prone to rotting and requires quite a bit of upkeep. So a lot of companies began to search for a more durable alternative, and discovered the numerous benefits of recycled plastics.

To take advantage of recycled plastic bags and other plastic items, manufacturers like Dow work with plastic film recycling companies like Avangard Innovative. Avangard turns previously used low-density polyethylene (LDPE) — known as plastic film and used in plastic packaging, bags, and bottles — into high-quality recycled resin suitable for making new products. Dow then takes the recycled materials and leans on its material science technology to enable them to be used in a wide variety of items, such as outdoor furniture.

“Plastic waste does not belong in the environment,” said Nestor de Mattos, Dow’s North America commercial vice president for Packaging & Specialty Plastics. “Rather, it should be collected and reused to create new products. That’s why we’re working with innovators in recycling technology to pursue new solutions that will provide value and a second life for used plastics. Not only does this effort help Dow meet its sustainability goals, it will also help our customers reach their own sustainability objectives, while furthering the shift toward a circular economy for plastics.”

Companies are now producing items like Adirondack chairs from used plastic products such as bags, milk jugs and water bottles. Belson Outdoors, for example, offers a Seaside Adirondack Chair that’s made from 100% recycled plastic. Meanwhile, POLYWOOD offers customers a pullout ottoman with its Recycled Plastic Big Daddy Adirondack Chair, both of which are made from recycled plastics. POLYWOOD was the first company to make outdoor furniture from recycled plastic, starting in 1990. The company uses recycled plastic material because it is more resistant to cracking, splintering and rotting after being exposed to the elements.

Take action

Repurposing plastic waste and giving it new life as durable outdoor furniture demonstrates the concept of From Single Use to Reuse at work. By learning how to recycle properly according to your community’s program, you can contribute to more plastic being reused to create useful products.

BTW, if you don’t need a plastic bag, don’t take one. If you take a bag, reuse it as many times as possible. And if you can’t reuse it, someone else can: There are more than 18,000 recycling drop-off locations, primarily at major grocery stores and retail chains, throughout the United States to take care of it for you.

Continue to visit From Single Use to Reuse to learn more about how communities, companies and brands are recycling and using recycled plastics.

Glossary

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE):  Low-density polyethylene (LDPE, #4) is a soft, flexible, lightweight plastic material. It’s used to make a wide variety of items, most commonly packaging and plastic bags.

Plastic film:  Plastic film is soft and flexible packaging such as grocery, bread, zip-top and dry-cleaning bags. It’s also the wrap around many products including paper plates, napkins, bathroom tissue, diapers, and more. Bubble wrap, air pillows and bubble wrap shipping envelopes are made from the same kind of plastic and can be recycled as well. Plastic film can be recycled at more than 18,000 drop-off locations in the United States and Canada, including many grocery stories.

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