Recycled Plastic lumbers: Transforming furniture industry

July 01, 2022

Everyone loves products that last longer and need less maintenance, especially infrastructure and furniture. A good infrastructure needs the use of the best quality raw materials. This has lately resulted in using materials that do not wither quickly and add to the visual appeal.

Structural lumbers are one such component of the designing part. Initially, wooden lumbers were the only choice and considering the wide variety of wood that nature offers, each type was used for a different purpose. While some wood types became popular due to their high strength, others were considered for their finesse. However, with increasing demand and the harmful effects of extensive deforestation, it became necessary to search for alternatives.

On the other hand, the fight against plastic picked up the pace. Organizations began searching for opportunities wherein plastic could be used. The introduction of extended producer responsibility in India was one remarkable act by the government. Recyclable plastic emerged as a trend, and structural experts soon realized that recycled plastic could be used to make structural lumbers.

Plastic lumbers extensively used in making structures and furniture, and there is a reason for it. Below are some of the features that make plastic lumbers the first choice.

  1. Strong Structures
    Plastic lumbers sturdy. They do not break apart or develop cracks which is a concern in the case of wood when exposed to environmental factors. This reduces the wear and tear extensively. Being pest, mildew, rot and water resistant, the lumbers stay in place for generations, the ultimate goal of any structural expert.
  2. Waste reduction
    Waste accumulation has been a serious concern. With increasing population and growing consumption of manmade and natural resources, finding an alternative that maintains a balance is the need of the hour. When recycled PET flakes are transformed into lumbers, a considerable amount of plastic waste from landfills is consumed. Government bodies have constantly been struggling to find a sustainable approach where most of the plastic waste is recycled and designed into new products. Plastic waste accumulation has reached alarming stages, and governments are trying to deal with it. There have been awareness campaigns and programs to enlighten the common man to avoid using single-use plastic.
  3. Saving trees
    Plastic lumbers led to decreased demand for wood. Even though forests are renewable resources, it takes several years for a plant to mature into a tree to be used in building and furniture. The increasing population demands more land; thus, saving trees is a crucial aspect of conserving the balance in nature. Plastic lumbers leave the forests intact, leading to improved air quality.
  4. Use of fewer chemicals
    Wood lumbers need to be treated before they are used in structures to ensure the prevention of insect infestations in future. Also, they need to be treated at regular intervals to maintain the shine and look, which means using chemicals as a coating over the surface. Such chemicals have their side effects in the long run. Waterproof plastic lumbers are a safer alternative for building structures and furniture.
  5. Low maintenance
    Due to its inert nature, the structure or furniture made of plastic lumbers has very low maintenance. There is no need for termite treatment, and do not need regular repainting. This means cost saving in the long run which is an excellent benefit for people who wish to get a great aesthetic look at lower operating costs. An increasing number of companies have been venturing into the plastic lumber business ever since people have become aware of the concept of recycled PET flakes in India. These flakes are procured from recycling units and transformed into lumbers by manufacturers.
  6. Outdoor structures and furniture
    Outdoor structures like fencing and decking are preferably made of plastic lumbers. These are perfect decking materials since they do not get stained or rust. People who wish to set up an outdoor seating arrangement choose plastic over wood lumbers.
  7. Lightweight
    Plastic lumbers are lightweight, which makes them easy to work with. They offer clean and clear aesthetics with the least effort and are becoming increasingly popular. The light weight also means easy transportation of raw materials at sites. Thus, it saves money in different ways.
  8. Colour and style options
    People are opting for environmentally friendly furniture using recycled plastic lumbers and upholstery made of RPSF fibre. With the increasing popularity in the market, lumber manufacturers are now taking it to the next level by offering a wide range of coloured lumbers. These are ready to use, and one can choose an option according to the area's overall look. On the other hand, Wood does not offer much scope for transformation.

Some Cons of Plastic Lumbers One Should Know

Every product has its pros and cons, and so does plastic lumber. One should consider the negatives as well when making a choice. Here is the list:

  • Recycled plastic lumbers expensive when compared to traditional wood alternatives. However, if one considers the long-term operating costs, it may not come out to be very costly.
  • Plastic lumber expands and contracts according to the changing weather and temperature. It may result in loose joints over time and pose a challenge in building structures.
  • Plastic lumber is not an option for people who love the natural wood look.
  • For installing the plastic lumbers, special fasteners are required. Thus, craftsmanship does come into play.
  • Considering the variation in lumber due to temperature change, it is not ideal to use in places with very high temperatures.

Plastic lumbers have a long journey considering that they are still in the initial stage, and companies are working on finding ways to eliminate the negatives associated. Environmentalists applaud the product since it means a considerable amount of plastic waste will be consumed. As the comfort of working with the material increases over time, it is ought to make a significant contribution in the future.

Plastic waste isn’t just a threat to nature. It has harmful effects on living beings as well. Therefore, as responsible end consumers, we should also be careful of what kind of plastic we use and whether we are dumping it correctly.