Plastic is used for so many products that we use every day. From car bumpers to packaging, plastic is a part of our daily lives. Some of the most common products that contain plastic that we use every day is water bottles and plastic milk jugs. But many of us do not give a second thought to what happens when they are put into the recycling bin and sent off to the recycling plant.
Many of the recycled plastic products such as plastic milk jugs find new life as plastic lumber. These plastic milk jugs are first separated from the other plastics, cleaned and are then ground into small pieces. After the milk jugs are ground, they are then melted down. Once all the pieces have melted, they go through an extruder that molds them into a rectangular oblong shape. The consistency of the recycled plastic when it is coming out of the extruder is somewhat reminiscent of play dough. The dough like substance is then ran through a cooling chamber on a conveyor belt that has hundreds of jets that shoot cool water. By cooling the plastic keeps it from rising like dough and cools it down. The plastic lumber is then air-dried and is run through yet another water-cooling chamber. After the plastic lumber is cooled down, the top layer is heated slightly again and ran through an embosser. The embosser gives it a wood grain stamp. These embossments and colors can also be custom made to order.
Plastic lumber can then be made into many different products. When we visit our local or state park, we do not think much about the bench we are sitting on or the picnic table that we are using. Many of these were once milk jugs sitting in our fridge at one time or another. These plastic milk jugs have taken on a new life as playground equipment, benches and picnic tables.
Not only can recycled plastic lumber be made into benches and tables at the park, it can also be used just like traditional wooden lumber. Homeowners are now realizing that decks and fences last longer when made out of plastic lumber then traditional wooden lumber.
The many benefits of recycling plastic are numerous. By recycling plastics, they can have a new life as other products that we use in and outside of the home. So, next time at the park remember that many of the benches and picnic tables would not be there if plastic milk jugs were not recycled.