Home Publisher's Point of View Almost 25 Years of Turning Milk Jugs Into Outdoor Furniture

Almost 25 Years of Turning Milk Jugs Into Outdoor Furniture


I am by no means a plastics historian but it is clear that 1990 was a big year—especially for the recycling of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), the type of plastic used in milk jugs, detergent bottles, and shampoo bottles. It was then that Doug Rassi and Mark Phillabaum, founders and owners of Poly-Wood, Inc., discovered they could extrude recycled milk jugs into plastic lumber. That lumber could then be used to design and build outdoor furniture. Also in 1990, Environmental Specialty Products began making outdoor furniture using recycled HDPE. So too did Fibrex Group.

Poly-Wood, Environmental Specialty Products and Fibrex Group are just three of the companies I highlight in an article posted this past week on outdoor furniture that incorporates recycled plastic content. A total of 10 suppliers are mentioned. If you have a need for outdoor furniture that is not only stylish and colorful but durable as well, I highly recommend furniture made from recycled plastic. According to the suppliers who make it, 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.

There is a long list of furniture items available from HDPE and other similar recycled plastics—chairs, benches, tables, stools, towel valets and caddies, portable bars, storage boxes, planters, etc. Of course all of these items made from recycled plastic can be recycled again at the end of their life.

Raw Material Tends to be Locally Sourced

Suppliers manufacturing with HDPE or other recycled plastic tend to be very responsible in how they manufacture, from where they purchase the raw materials for their furniture, and how they ship to their customers. For example, 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. Loll Designs uses U.S.A. sourced material—primarily from milk jugs. The company’s furniture, similar to other suppliers, is shipped “knocked down” to reduce costs and environmental impact. Loll Designs has signed up with Carbonfund.org to help support projects such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects. Loll Design pays a fee to Carbonfund for every package shipped and Carbonfund uses that money to fund their projects.

Outdoor furniture made from recycled plastic can help convey your property’s commitment to sustainability and help tell your overall green story. By purchasing this type of furniture, you help to close the recycling loop and encourage the diverting of waste that otherwise would end up in a landfill to sit for many generations to come. Really, as part of your green purchasing strategy, buying outdoor furniture with recycled content should be a no brainer. It is guaranteed to last for many years. In fact, one supplier offers a 35 year warranty against fading, cracking or deterioration.

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