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What is composite recycled outdoor patio furniture?

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Recycled plastic patio furniture is increasing in popularity at a very fast pace, and has been referred to by many names. Each company manufactures its own raw material lumber and trademarks their lumber name. Some knock-off brands use these trademarked names as their own in an attempt to bring them into the same category. Think of Band-Aids and Kleenex versus off-brand bandages and tissues. While Band-Aid brand hopes everyone refers to bandages as “Band-Aids” they certainly acknowledge that people refer to off-brands as Band-Aids as well when the quality is not the same at all. Envirowood is a trademarked name for the lumber that Seaside Casual composite furniture is made from. Polywood is a trademarked name reserved only for furniture manufactured by a company named Polywood. It is easy to find other competing companies referring to their furniture as “Polywood” when clearly it was not manufactured in Syracuse, Indiana at the Polywood factory.

Composite lumber is of varying quality. Longevity in the industry is perhaps the best reflection of quality in this market because the product has been tested in multiple climates for so long. Some manufacturers refer to this material as HDPE, or High Density Polyethylene. In this overview, we’ll refer to this furniture as composite.

The first step in the manufacturing process is extrusion. Individual pieces of lumber are made in long lengths then cut. The raw material is recycled plastic, such as milk jugs, water bottles, and detergent bottles. The extrusion is a slow process that results in a consistent finish with no voids and 100% color permeated throughout the material. UV stabilizers are mixed into the solution to further improve color fastness. Foaming agents are added in varying degrees per brand, along with proprietary mixes of polymers and other secret ingredients that differentiate one from another.

Many different shapes and thicknesses of lumber are created to satisfy the wide array of furniture pieces that are manufactured. The design variations are endless. Several colors, from earth tones to vibrant rainbow colors are made, and multiple colors of lumber may be mixed into a single piece.

Composite patio furniture is colored solid throughout, will not crack or peel, does not absorb moisture, doesn’t rot, rust, or corrode, resists mold and fungus, is very easy to clean, and is heavy. It’s manufactured with the intention of leaving it outside year round regardless of weather conditions. While this material was once stereotyped as coastal, or nautical in design, many traditional and contemporary designs are widely available.

The United States recycles a tremendous amount of plastic. The raw materials are plentiful. The longest standing mature manufacturers of composite outdoor patio furniture are found in the United States, one with over 100 years of experience.

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  • Anesia St. Clair