Furniture made from recycled plastics is gaining prominence in the outdoor furniture industry. Recent advancements in manufacturing the material have made it a feasible alternative to what is traditionally used.
High density polyethylene or HDPE is a material derived from the number 2 type of recycled plastic. The most common container is the gallon milk jug. They are those semi-white jugs that you can see through a little. They are not the material used for solid white containers or the clear 2-liter bottles.
One form of HDPE that has come onto the market is called Polywood. It essentially is plastic lumber produced from type 2 waste recovered from recycling centers. Polywood is actually heavier and stronger than lumber cut from wood. First, the recycled plastic is crushed into pellets and then melted in a pot. Next, ultra-violet substances and color are added. This gives HDPE a huge advantage over traditional wood lumber. The liquid is then cured in molds shaped to normal sizes of lumber. The final product has a grain finish instead of having a smooth polished feel. I expect this material will soon be sold side by side with wood lumber in the home improvement chain stores.
The advantages of high density polyethylene furniture are numerous. First off, this recycled material is environmental friendly. No new plastic material has been introduced to the environment. The plastic has been saved from dumping into the ground and trees are saved from being cut down to make this furniture. Green alternative technologies are becoming a staple in many industries.
HDPE can handle the outdoor elements over time better than wood furniture. Sun, rain, and snow do not degrade high density polyethylene lumber. Insects and termites cannot eat away Polywood lumber. This furniture handles water over time without rotting and mildewing. Polywood furniture is an excellent choice for pool furniture at hotels and homes. In summary, high density polyethylene furniture will last a lot longer than wooden furniture.
Since Polywood lumber has solid color throughout, there is never a need to paint or stain it. The ultra-violet protection added will not allow the furniture to fade from sun exposure over the years. Polywood furniture needs only wipe down cleaning. It is very easy maintenance.
Finally, a great advantage to HDPE lumber is its high tensile strength. It is heavier and stronger than wood yet because it is plastic, there is a slight flexibility to it that makes it more comfortable than wood. Even though wood is somewhat flexible, it tends to warp permanently in one direction or another. Polywood flexes to the shape of a person's body but springs back when they rise for sitting on it. Wood will crack, splinter, and shear much easier as well.
Next time you are in the market for outdoor furniture, consider buying high density polyethylene pieces. Do not mistake it for the cheap plastic furniture currently prevalent in the stores. HDPE is high quality plastic furniture and one day soon may take over as the top selling material for outdoor use.