Where can I buy sheets of recycled plastic, made from yogurt containers or bottle caps?

Asked by Donna Merrill
Redwood City, CA

A picture to see would be most helpful. Can be made out of recycled plastics into pressboard. I want to see all different brands in the pressboard/laminate - can be brands from any consumer products, such as bottled drink caps or food containers.


Cynthia Phakos

Answered by Cynthia Phakos

Los Angeles, CA

Koffka Phakos Design

May 11, 2011

The product that you are referring is a sheet good made of recycled HDPE (high density polyethylene thermoplastic).

According to Wikipedia, HDPE is made from petroleum and takes 1.75 kilograms of petroleum (in terms of energy and raw materials) to make one kilogram of HDPE.

  • Plastic objects with the recycling label #2 are made of HDPE.
  • It is highly recyclable and often is used for outdoor furniture, decking, and plastic lumber.
  • HDPE can be heat formed, shaped and welded and has excellent corrosion resistance.
  • The sheets are easily joined by welding with plastic welder and can be cut with wood saw and drilled with regular metal bits.
  • It has a 0.95 density, is rigid, with good impact and abrasion resistance and comes in sheets of 1/16” to 1” thick.

Manufacturers of HDPE sheets

You will find several manufacturers of HDPE Sheets on the internet.

I spoke with a representative from a large manufacturer, American Recycled Plastics Inc., which has been in the business of recycling HDPE for 20 years, selling mostly to the federal government and the agricultural industry.

  • HDPE sheets are frequently used in agricultural applications such as animal pens as they can be easily cleaned.
  • Manufacturers such as these have a limited color range as they are supplying for a more functionally driven market.
  • Buying from a company such as this can be very cost effective though you must buy a minimum of 5 sheets.
  • With a minimum order of 5,000 pounds they can customize almost any color. Customers such as Disney buy larger orders of custom colors for their theme parks, as it is a super tough, durable material.

Another supplier of custom colors would be design companies such as 3-Form, supplying at the higher end side of the market, with their line called 100%.

  • They advertise it as an architectural resin panel made from 100% post-consumer recycled HDPE.
  • “With over 1000 milk bottles going into each panel, it can help projects earn up to 2 LEED credits for recycled content.”
  • Their six base colors are a typical designer’s palette and their four blends are multi color and a more playful design.

How sustainable is HDPE?

From the perspective of sustainability, the materials are of value not only for keeping plastic out of the waste stream but also because it is maintenance-free and will outlast conventional building materials.

Also, the representative at American Recycled Plastics, Inc. told me that there is no odor in the recycling of the HDPE, a good indication that there is no off-gassing.

Tagged In: recycled content

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