I saw the display for By the Yard at the Portland Yard, Garden & Patio show last week. They make outdoor furniture from recycled plastic milk jugs (HDPE plastic). How cool is that? The colors are really nice, and the furniture looked comfortable. I didn’t have a chance to try any of their pieces – all their sample furniture was occupied. According to their website, the material they make from the milk jugs is 20% heavier than cedar, which means your patio chair shouldn’t blow around in the wind (tornados excepted, I would imagine). The material is also treated with a “UV-inhibitor incorporated into the material to minimize the chance of any discoloration”, and is not supposed to fade, crack, blister or break.
I don’t currently own any of By the Yard’s products, but as we look to add or replace our outdoor furniture, I will definitely keep them in mind. And there are several other companies that make similar items. I got rather excited by seeing a company creating useful products out of recyclable materials. It’s not just enough to recycle – the only reason anyone takes your curbside materials is because somewhere along the line, they can get paid for them. In the case of your garbage, the haulers get paid to take it to the landfill. For all other materials to be worth picking up, there has to be a viable market for them. Paper and cardboard are super-easy to recycle into more paper and cardboard products. Aluminum and steel are super-easy to recycle into more aluminum and steel products. What happens to plastics? There are relatively few US markets for plastics. Most of our plastic products get sent to China to be reprocessed into more plastic stuff (or get burned for energy – yay, burning plastic fumes!). By the Yard is a piece of the US market for recycling plastic. Buying products like theirs helps close the recycling loop – otherwise, materials like those milk jugs are just trash.