Happy Earth Day Playmates!
Protecting our environment for our children today and for generations to come has been a focus in creating our Nature of Early Play products right from the start. It’s a commitment for us to do our part to make our materials and manufacturing process Earth-friendly. What better way to fulfill that commitment than to recycle milk jugs that would have ended up in landfills and oceans and turn them into early childhood playgrounds?
Did you know that according to the environmental protection agency, the average American produces 4.9 Lbs of waste a day! That adds up to 292.4 million tons daily, most of which goes into landfills. While most of us participate in a waste recycling program at home, without a market for recycled materials, those well-meaning recycling programs simply delay the day potentially reusable materials hit the landfill.
Our concern for environmental issues and our commitment to preserving a healthy environment for all have motivated us to be part of the solution to the recycling dilemma: what to do about plastic pollution. We have found that the very attribute of plastic pollution, that is, its long life in the environment, makes these materials excellent material for long-lasting and safe playground equipment. So, whenever you or your children play on our playground, study on our outdoor classroom products, or enjoy lunch on our picnic tables, you are helping us help the earth be a more sustainable planet. Thanks for your participation with us in the green economy.
We Make Recycled Plastic Playground Equipment
The properties that make plastics so hard to dispose of also make them an excellent source material for commercial playground equipment. As you will learn below, the plastics we use in everyday products like milk jugs have a natural life measured in centuries. It is because of this that we have invested in the resources needed to reuse this plastic to make safe and durable early childhood playground equipment that you can feel proud to have in your local daycare, park, school, or other playgrounds.
Every year, we purchase more than a million pounds of raw ground post-industrial HDPE plastic for use in manufacturing Nature of Early Play playground equipment. Then, we add UV protection, coloring, and other ingredients to the material and extrude it into the recycled plastic lumber. We call it Recycled Structural Plastic (RSP)™ which then becomes the structural members of our playground equipment. Procuring reclaimed plastic helps support recycling programs in local communities across the United States and contributes to our commitment to “do the right thing” for our environment. If you share the same commitment, please learn about our infant and early play equipment in our line of Nature of Early Play branded products. We would be proud to be your playground equipment manufacturer of choice and support the health of your community and its children with green playground equipment. We know that the children in your care will enjoy your commitment to providing safe and stimulating play spaces.
- Scientists estimate that a single plastic bottle will take 450 years to degrade in the ocean. That’s not to mention the harm it could cause to ocean animals and humans over those hundreds of years.
- An estimated 583 billion plastic bottles were produced in 2021.
- According to the Environmental Protection Agency, landfills in the U.S. are filled with 26.82 million tons of plastic annually.
- Annually, about 500 billion plastic bags go into landfills worldwide and only 3.5% are recycled.
- According to the EPA, the average US resident uses approximately 315 plastic bottles each year.
- At least 8 million tons of post-consumer and post-industrial plastic end up in our oceans every year. Many countries lack the infrastructure to prevent plastic pollution.
- When plastics end up in landfills, they aren’t harmless. They break down into tiny toxic particles that contaminate the soil and waterways and enter the food chain when animals ingest them.
Today’s Discarded Milk Jugs Can Be Tomorrow’s Recycled Plastic Playground Equipment
Instead of post-industrial plastic waste going into landfills, HDPE (High-density Polyethylene) plastic can be recycled. HDPE is the type of plastic that is used to make milk jugs, detergent containers, water jugs, shampoo bottles, some plastic bags, and more—look for the little recycling triangle with a number 2 in it. While it can’t be recycled into a new milk jug, it CAN be safely recycled for a variety of other uses. At Play Mart we use recycled plastic to make commercial quality playground equipment.
Nature of Early Play Plastic Recycling Process
The HDPE plastic we source comes primarily from milk jug manufacturers’ problematic materials. (Learn more from one of our plastic sourcing partners.) For instance, if a milk jug isn’t completely formed to its mold or accidentally touches the floor (per U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations if a milk jug touches the floor during the manufacturing process it can no longer be used for milk), typically these would be landfilled. We intercept this discarded material before it is sent to a landfill to use in our playground equipment manufacturing.
The HDPE source materials that go into our uniquely customized formula utilize only post-industrial milk jugs we specify with our vendor partners. The precise materials that make up our proprietary RSP formula have been rigorously tested for structural integrity and durability on outdoor playgrounds.
We have invested in our own extrusion processes. The HDPE regrind material is enriched with strengthening agents, UV protection, and colorant in our proprietary formula resulting in superior Recycled Structural Plastic™ lumber. Our RSP lumber is specifically designed to have a low impact on the environment. In addition, it is safe for children and long-lasting.
Recycling as a Company Policy
A large part of our RSP lumber HDPE content comes from our own manufacturing waste that we reuse and recycle. All of the scraps and trimmed materials used during our manufacturing processes are recovered and reground for extruding the plastic lumber. Our rigorous internal recycling efforts have allowed us to cut in half the amount of additional plastic we use. This has saved millions of pounds of plastic from going to landfills. What that means is roughly 50% of our RSP is from internally recycled material. In fact, we even purchase plastic from other playground manufacturers that would otherwise be landfilled.
We turn milk jugs into playgrounds!
Earth Day is Every Day with Nature of Early Play Products
For us, we live and work every as if it was Earth Day every day. But in honor of Earth Day this year, we wanted to highlight how using recycled plastics is beneficial to everyone:
- Recycled Structural Plastic is low-maintenance, graffiti-resistant, won’t chip or splinter, and is resistant to insects, fungus, and inclement weather. That means you won’t need to replace your playground equipment for many years.
- We offer a Limited 10-Year Warranty on our RSP components and EcoColor™ Plastic Products under normal use and proper maintenance against structural failure due to deterioration or weathering. So not only are we saving those milk jugs from polluting the environment, but they’ll stay out of that landfill for a very long time.
- RSP is 100% BPA, phthalate, and “soft” PVC free, which means it can help limit your children’s exposure to potential toxicities.
- Having recycled playground equipment makes for a great teaching tool. Provides a life lesson to kids about good use of resources!
We are continually implementing sustainable corporate practices in our product and work environment. We love educating young children about environmentally responsible living and recycling by offering tours of our manufacturing plant in rural Kentucky. Our sustainable practices are tangible reflections of our corporate mission.
We can all do our part to help the planet Earth each day. One way is to carefully choose the products we use and how we recycle the items we consume. The next time you put your empty plastic milk jug in the recycling bin, just imagine one day it might just become a playground. We think that’s pretty neat!