HDPE outdoor furniture

Why Recycled Plastic Furniture instead of Wood Furniture?

What Is Recycled Plastic Furniture?

Recycled plastic furniture is furniture made from recycled plastic. Through an exciting process, multiple milk jugs quickly turn into a comfy Adirondack chair for backyards and balconies.

Recycled plastic furniture is made from poly lumber, which is plastic lumber that often mimics the texture and looks of wood. This genius invention is why many end consumers are ditching wooden furniture altogether and going for poly furniture.

Recycled plastic furniture has multiple advantages that beat wood and metal, as you will see. But first, get a little insight into plastic lumber, HDPE outdoor furniture trends, and how the furniture is made.


Types Of Recycled Plastic Lumber

Because plastic furniture is so popular, it makes sense that there are different types of plastic lumber, each with strengths and weaknesses.

High-Density Polyethylene

Also known as HDPE, this is the most common type of plastic lumber. It is a solid and resistant plastic material that manufacturers favor. That is why you will find this material in production lines for making food containers and bottles.

Its chemical resistance has also made it popular in the detergent packaging industry, where manufacturers use HDPE to make study detergent bottles. Another popular application is to make milk jugs.

HDPE comes in various colors, making it perfect for decking and furniture. However, recycling this plastic to make lumber can get expensive, thus affecting the finished product.


Commingled lumber

This lumber is mixed recovered thermoplastic. This plastic can be heated and molded into various shapes, including high-quality lumber to make furniture. This is a good alternative for those on a budget since sorting is eliminated, lowering overall production costs. However, it is only available in earthy tones and has stiffness problems.

Wood-Filled lumber

This lumber is a mix of plastic and wood in equal amounts. The primary advantage of this lumber is that the blend leaves very few voids, making it decently structurally sound.

Additionally, it has better surface roughness for aesthetics and paint-ability. Unfortunately, this type of lumber can absorb moisture and thus may not last long in humidity and precipitation. Additionally, it may be prone to insect damage.


Fiber-Reinforced lumber

And lastly, this lumber has plastic mixed with stands of glass fiber. This combination creates stiff lumber ideal for decking and furniture. But this lumber is not as flexible as other plastic lumber. Plus, many end consumers agree that this type of lumber is rougher than most, affecting comfort.

Fiber-Reinforced lumber

Is Recycled Plastic Furniture Popular in the Market Now?

In 2021, the global plastic furniture market reached a value of US$ 13.5 Billion. This industry is expected to have a Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.6% between 2022 and 2027. This will make the market reach US$ 17.8 Billion by 2027.

The Growing Demand for Recycled Plastic Furniture

Multiple factors have increased the demand for recycled plastic furniture.

  • Rising investments by governing agencies
  • The increasing number of nuclear families
  • Growing consumer need for high-end luxury furniture

A notable reason end consumers are gearing towards plastic furniture is the popularity of eco-awareness. The new generation of consumers that is Millennials and Gen Z, are showing an interesting and welcome trend.

Their purchase is now influenced by sustainability and the product’s impact on the environment, from production to use. Eco-awareness is no longer a fad but a movement taken seriously by these consumers to reduce their carbon footprint and preserve the environment.

This means that these consumers focus on products with a low environmental impact. Similarly, they are purchasing from companies making notable changes to be more environmentally friendly in production or manufacture.

So, companies are tailoring their processes to favor the needs of these consumers. Part of that means turning to recycled raw materials to make products. Thus, the increase in demand for recycled plastic furniture.

Transitional HDPE Outdoor Furniture-Adirondack Chairs Collection

How the Furniture Industry Embraced Recycled Plastic Materials

Furniture companies are trying to meet sustainability goals by turning to recycled materials to make their products more recyclable.

While upcycling and using vintage pieces have always been a huge part of sustainability, recycling takes it to a new level. Companies have adopted the mindset that materials are abundant for making furniture, eliminating the need to create more.

POLYWOOD champions the movement, producing strictly high-quality furniture made from recycled plastic. They even have their own recycling plant. Other furniture companies adopting recycled products into the collection include Arhaus Furniture, Ikea, Emeco, and Pentatonic.

HDPE recycled

How is the Recycled Plastic Furniture Made?

So how does a milk jug turn into a plastic stool? It is an easy-to-understand process as follows:


The first step in this process is recycling. Recycling is a long and sometimes expensive process which is why many furniture makers do not do it themselves. Instead, it happens in recycling plants starting with sorting and cleaning.

Once the plastic is clean, it goes into a shredder to make it smaller; then, it is separated through elements like density and weight to create varied thicknesses of lumber. Then the last stage involves compounding, which sees the plastic melted into small pellets or beads. This is how most furniture makers receive their raw materials to make poly lumber, then furniture.

Making poly lumber

The first step in forming poly lumber from these pellets is extrusion. It involves adding UV stabilizers, colorants, foaming agents, and other elements. The plastic goes through the molding to turn into various thicknesses of lumber ideal for cutting into furniture.

The lumber goes down the cooling line, where it becomes stable enough to cut into workable pieces. This is the poly lumber that is cut, drilled, and assembled into various furniture pieces.

Why Recycled Plastic Instead of Wood?

There are multiple reasons why recycled plastic is beating wood as a furniture choice. Recycled plastic is especially popular in outdoor furniture, while wood has proven to be lacking in some areas.

Wood is beautiful, luxurious, and comfortable. But it has shortcomings that make recycled plastic furniture an ideal replacement. Thus end consumers are turning to this option. But you do not have to decide between the two yet. Instead, read the information below and make an informed decision.

Environmentally Friendly

The first thing you should know about poly furniture is its environmentally friendly nature. It sounds crazy to say that plastic is environmentally friendly, yet it is something the industry witnesses every day with recycled plastic furniture.

For starters, this furniture is made from recycled plastic, which is good for the environment. First, it utilizes plastic that would have otherwise gone to landfills. This dramatically reduces the need for landfills. Secondly, less plastic will be leaching into the soil and water supply.

Additionally, recycling plastic uses less energy than making new plastic, proving its sustainability. Plus, by using recycled plastic, there is less demand for new manufacturing, curbing plastic production.

And best of all, most recycled plastic furniture pieces are 100% recyclable, so they can go back into the system instead of going to landfills.

While wood is a naturally renewable source, you are more likely to find people cutting trees than planning them. Therefore, wooden furniture could be indirectly contributing to adverse climate change.


Durable And Long-lasting

Experts will tell you that recycled plastic furniture is at least 5 times stronger than treated wood. While there is no accurate proof of it, the fact is not unbelievable. Recycled plastic furniture is solid; some are even heavier than wood.

Its structural integrity and stability, therefore, make it a durable and long-lasting option that easily beats wood. You will learn below that wood is susceptible to elements that recycled plastic is not. Thus while wood rots, cracks, splinters, or breaks, recycled plastic stands firm in the face of these threats.

Wood furniture will often need replacing in 10 years, even with proper maintenance. However, some manufacturers give their plastic furniture a lifetime stamp or at least 20 years before needing replacement.

The comparison champions recycled plastic as the more practical option since it will last significantly longer than wood.

Outdoor Furniture Industry Trends For 2022-Durable And Weatherproof

Many Colors Plus No Painting

If you have wood furniture and want it in a specific color other than its natural shade, then you need to paint it. Years of exposure to the weather will eventually chip or crack the paint, demanding a fresh coat.

Without paint, wood does not offer many varieties in colors, so it can be hard to create a theme that does not involve at least one shade of brown.

Unfortunately, this is a disadvantage for many end consumers with desired themes and color schemes they want to reflect through their furniture. But recycled plastic furniture does not have this problem.

During production, the plastic receives colorant, UV inhibiting components, and other elements that secure the color. Therefore, the color of poly lumber does not sit on the top like paint. It runs through the thickness of the fibers.

This, plus the UV inhibiting properties, makes recycled plastic furniture immune to fading. So end consumers do not need to keep painting or staining to maintain the overall looks. And since colorant is added to the lumber during processing, manufacturers can produce a variety of colors. Thus, poly furniture comes in many colors that favor end consumer needs.

Easy to maintain

While wood is luxurious and timeless, it is also demanding in maintenance. Wood furniture requires regular maintenance in staining, painting, and cleaning. Without care and cleaning, the wood deteriorates, leading to damage and the need for replacement.

But recycled plastic furniture is different in that it needs little maintenance. In fact, all that end consumers need to maintain this furniture is soap and water. Cleaning with soap and water every few weeks adequately removes dirt and dust, giving the furniture a fresh look.

There is no need for staining, or repainting, even with constant exposure to the elements. This is what most end consumers are looking for, easy maintenance.

Easy to maintain

Impervious to insects and bacteria

Another significant issue with wood is its permeability to insects and bacteria. While not all woods are susceptible to insect damage, some are. The insects burrow through the wood and use the furniture for shelter and nourishment. This weakens the fibers, damaging structural integrity and ruining the furniture.

Recycled plastic differs in that it is impervious to insects. The synthetic material is immune to the effects of insects. Thus, they cannot use it to feed or make a shelter. Similarly, this material does not support bacteria or mold growth.

This advantage is excellent for consumers in areas prone to termite and other insects that damage the wood. Additionally, the furniture is great for high humidity areas.

All-weather Furniture

When wood is exposed to the elements for a long time, it will get damaged. Without the proper care, wood will crack and sprinter under the excessive sun. Additionally, wood is very absorbent, so moisture from rain or snow can seep into the fibers, making them swell. This will trigger rot and mold growth which damages the wood. When it dries unevenly, it triggers warping.

Poly furniture is delightfully all-weather. The recycled plastic can sit in the sun without getting hot, fading, or warping. Additionally, it can withstand rain and snow since the synthetic is not absorbent. Even in winter, the furniture performs well without breaking or sustaining damage.

Thus recycled plastic is the true all-weather material ideal for crafting durable and resistant furniture.


Final Thoughts

Investing in high-quality recycled plastic furniture is one of the best things any furniture company or brand can do. These furniture pieces are in high demand, and the industry is predicted to grow in the coming years.

But to achieve success, you must partner with reliable furniture-making companies who can guarantee high-quality results. We are such a company, open to partnering with good furniture companies.

Trust our quality and reliability because we will not disappoint. Reach out and learn more about our furniture and prices.

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