NATIONAL REPORT—Part of what makes outdoor furniture sustainable is its sturdiness—its ability to last for years without requiring replacement. Another green factor is the materials from which the furniture is made. Fortunately for hoteliers, there is a wide variety of outdoor furniture available that has a strong green materials story. A large percentage of that furniture is made from recycled plastic—primarily high density polyethylene (HDPE) from recycled milk jugs and other containers. Suppliers have their own names for the plastic material that can be used in the construction of furniture items ranging from chairs to tables to towel valets or caddies—Ecowood, Neowood, POLYWOOD, Forever·nu, etc. Furniture made with a high percentage of HDPE will not chip, corrode or discolor and is impervious to insects, mold and moisture. It is also not affected by salt or chlorine. Furniture made from recycled plastic can be recycled again at the end of its life.
Here then is a rundown of some of the most prominent suppliers that sell outdoor furniture that includes recycled plastic content, or something similar:
Environmental Specialty Products—Environmental Specialty Products uses plastic lumber in its outdoor furniture that is available in nine standard colors and three specialty colors. Environmental Specialty Products has been making furniture using recycled HDPE plastics since 1990. The company offers a 35 year warranty against fading, cracking or deterioration. Available is a wide variety of products including benches, chairs and tables.
Fibrex Group—Known for its selection of recycling centers, waste receptacles and other items such as playground equipment, Fibrex Group also offers site furnishings such as picnic tables and benches. Also around since 1990, Fibrex Group’s products are made from recycled plastic lumber that includes 95 percent post-consumer recycled HDPE. According to Fibrex Group, almost all of its manufacturing waste and more than 75 percent of its operation’s waste is recycled.
Frontera Oudoor Furniture—Frontera Outdoor Furniture offers different types of chairs, sofas, tables, ottomans and benches made from POLYWOOD or Trex. POLYWOOD lumber is made from HDPE. Trex is made from 95 percent recycled materials, including recycled plastic, wood and sawdust.
Loll Designs—Loll Designs is a design and manufacturing company that creates durable, all-weather outdoor furniture made with recycled plastic. Loll is best known for its modern Adirondack chair but also makes furniture including chaise lounge chairs, rockers, tables and benches. All of the company’s outdoor furniture is designed and manufactured in the United States and requires no seasonal storage or maintenance.
Sharon Scheidel, Director of Sales for Loll Designs, says the company first started as a skateboard park manufacturer, making Adirondack chairs from excess material. The first Adirondack chair was made in 2004.
Regarding the company’s furniture, which comes in 10 different colors, Scheidel says, “It is durable and heavy and can be left out year-round. A UV inhibitor is added so it is fade resistant. We use U.S.A. sourced material—primarily from milk jugs. We buy the material from a supplier. Once we receive the material, we do the design and manufacture. It is a non-porous material and hygienic. It is easy to clean as well.”
Loll Designs furniture is shipped “knocked down” to reduce costs and environmental impact. The company has signed up with Carbonfund.org to help support projects such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects. Loll Designs pays a fee to Carbonfund for every package shipped and Carbonfund uses that money to fund their projects.
Pavilion Furniture—Pavilion Furniture has a line of furniture that uses Ecowood, a unique product made from recycled plastic containers that is resistant to weather and UV radiation. Products available using Ecowood include different types of seating, benches and tables. The Ecowood line has an aluminum frame which, according to Perry Solomon, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, is recyclable. The components used in the Ecowood line are made in the United States.
“Our factory is green certified,” Solomon says, explaining that powder coating takes place in a controlled room.
“The Ecowood line is about 1.5 years old,” Solomon adds. “It is doing exceptionally well. The fact that it is recyclable has a great deal of merit. It is impervious to just about anything.”
Poly Concepts—Poly Concepts’ line of outdoor furniture is constructed from a patented polypropylene material, Andure, which is 100 percent recyclable and emits no VOCs or toxins. All Poly Concepts products, which include chairs, rockers, benches, tables and other items, are manufactured in the United States in a facility that uses scrap lumber and sawdust to supply 80 to 85 percent of energy required to heat the facility. All scrap, unusable parts, and products at end of life are returned to the raw material manufacturer located in a neighboring state which are then recycled into new sheets of the patented polypropylene material which constitutes an average of 30 percent of the sheet volume.
According to Shirley Magoteaux, Vice President of Sales and Operations, furniture made from Andure is recyclable. “Our product is extremely durable and weather-resistant,” she says. “It withstands everything. Our product can even be sanded.”
Poly-Wood—Poly-Wood has been developing casual outdoor furniture with plastic lumber since 1990. It was then that the company’s founders and owners discovered they could extrude recycled milk jugs into plastic lumber. That lumber could then be used to design and build outdoor furniture with fundamental performance qualities. Poly-Wood now offers thousands of SKUs. To view a video of how Poly-Wood makes its furniture, click here. Some of the types of furniture available through Poly-Wood include chairs, tables and stools.
Prestwick Limited—According to Becky Ginter, Account Executive with Prestwick Limited, the company specializes in building customized waste/recycling and towel valets and caddies made of 97 percent Forever·nu recycled plastic. The company also sells benches, tables and chairs. “Everything is made here in Wisconsin,” Ginter says. “Everything is built to order.” Prestwick Limited offers different logo options for its furniture and furniture is available in nine colors. Prestwick Limited calls the lumber it makes its furniture from “Forever·nu.”
T2 Site Amenities—T2 Site Amenities offers different towel valets/return stations made from Neowood, a product made from 97 percent recycled HDPE #2 plastic (milk jugs). According to Steve Tilkin, co-owner of T2 Site Amenities, Neowood, made in the United States, will not rust, chip, corrode, or discolor. It is impervious to insects, mold and moisture. In addition to towel valets/return stations, T2 Site Amenities offers the following from Neowood: benches, chairs, podium desks, portable bars, storage boxes, planters and signage. Different color options are available. Similarly designed furniture pieces can be grouped together to allow a property to have a “cohesive look,” Tilkin says.
Trex Company—Trex Company offers its own line of furniture made from POLYWOOD. It includes more than 90 percent recycled plastic content by weight. Available from Trex are different styles of chairs, tables and other pieces.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.