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Genuine Recycling

Today, POLYWOOD recycles an average of 400,000 milk jugs per day. Truckloads of recycled milk jugs are transformed into genuine POLYWOOD lumber which is then used to construct our wide array of all-weather furniture. Learn more about our Genuine Recycling process below and how we transform everyday waste into beautiful outdoor furniture.


A Little History

Since the 1950s, the mass production of disposable plastic has rapidly increased. Unfortunately, plastic is extremely slow to degrade — scientists still don't know exactly how long plastics will exist after they end up in a landfill.

Landfill full of plastic

At POLYWOOD we recycle high-density polyethylene, an extremely durable type of plastic you'll find all around your home: milk jugs, detergent containers, shampoo bottles, lotion bottles, cleaner spray bottles, etc. The best part of high-density polyethylene (HDPE for short) is that it can actually be infinitely recycled.


Our Recycling Process

First, milk jugs arrive at our recycling plant bundled in large bales.

Bales of recycled milk jugs awaiting processing


The flattened milk jugs are sent up a conveyor to a giant shredder to be pre-shredded.

Recycled plastics entering the recycling line

Recycled milk jugs entering the plastics shredder

Shredded plastics coming up conveyor


Next, the shredded milk jug flakes are pre-washed and any heavy materials that might have gotten mixed in (glass, rocks, etc.) are removed.

Shredded plastics entering wash process


The cleaned and sorted material is then finely ground into a 1/2" flake and sent to a float tank where any other non-plastic items will sink out of the mix. The flakes are then dried and air separated.

Cleaned material entering dryer / sorter


Next, our color sorter will remove any colored plastics we don't want mixing into the final product. Once sorted, the resulting good material travels up another conveyor to be pelletized.

Sorted material entering pelletizer


The final product, shown below, is loads of clear pellets that are ready to be made into genuine POLYWOOD® lumber!

Clear pellets that are ready to be made into genuine POLYWOOD® lumber


Making Genuine POLYWOOD® Lumber

The recycled pellets are transported next door to the Extrusion Dept. by an efficiently designed series of tubes from one building to the next. All pellets are stored in silos outside the building and then sucked in through more tubes that run right to our extrusion lines.

Tubing that transports recycled pellets to storage

Tubing that runs from the Recycling Bldg. over to the silos outside of the Extrusion Dept.

POLYWOOD material storage silos

Our silos that store recycled milk jug pellets waiting to become POLYWOOD lumber.


While we can't divulge every step of the process, we take our recycled pellets, add colorant, along with other additives (to ensure beautiful long lasting color), and then extrude the mixture to the size and shape of the lumber we need (similar to when you “extruded” play-doh as a kid).

Play-doh kit

In a day, we extrude about 48–55,000 lbs of lumber. That equals about 57–60,000 lbs of recycled milk jugs.

POLYWOOD lumber in a variety of colors


Constructing POLYWOOD Furniture

On the last leg of its journey, our recycled lumber makes its way to our production cells where Builders construct POLYWOOD Furniture.

POLYWOOD production floor

POLYWOOD lumber on production floor

Workers complete POLYWOOD Adirondack Chair

After our furniture is constructed, any scrap lumber pieces, shavings, etc. from manufacturing go right back to our recycling plant to be reground, sent to extrusion, and made back into lumber.

Cut off lumber on its way to recycling

Scrap

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