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Plastic lumber and more

This is the third blog in a series featuring Iowa companies who are making an impact in sustainable construction.  

The Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls has been making recycled products from post consumer waste and post industrial waste for the last 25 years. Their major products are tables, benches, car stops for parking lots, and lumber. 

The company uses high density polyethylene such as milk jugs and low density polyethylene such as grocery bags as the raw material.  PVC or PET (pop bottles) recycled waste is not found in their products. Sue Waters, VP of sales and marketing, says it takes 7 one-gallon milk jugs to make one pound of recycled product.  Therefore it takes 770 milk jugs to make a 110 pound park bench.  In fact the company makes over five million pounds of product in the course of one year….that’s 35 million milk jugs!

According to Sue, finding an adequate stream of material is one of the main issues the company faces.  In the old days she says “companies would give away their waste but now we compete with China for our raw product.  China sends so many containers to the USA and wants them to return not empty.  As a result they are competing with us to buy recycled plastic.”

The lumber is great as pallet material but not as good as a structural beam.  The product expands in the sunlight or heat and my sag some.  When I asked how the 4x4 would work as a fence post she said “it would last for a long time but it tracks the sun and would bend towards the east in the morning and towards the west in the evening. 

You can support the Iowa based company by travelling to Iowa Falls and buying a bench for your garden that will last a lifetime.  As an Iowan they will give you 40% off to boot.

See the other blogs featuring Iowa companies at IowaBiz sustainable design and construction

- Rob Smith


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