If your outside space calls for tables and chairs that are durable, lightweight and easy to maintain, recycled plastic garden furniture seems a practical solution. That means the greyish brown, bulky kind that’s not particularly elegant, right? Not anymore.
We’re a long way from eliminating the plastic waste problem. The rate at which virgin plastic continues to be produced is incomprehensible (in 2018 the world produced 359 million metric tons). Any suggestion that recycling plastic into new products will solve the problem is still hotly debated, yet new applications for reusing the material appear to be booming. Outdoor furniture is one of them.
As you’ll see below, there are indeed some recycled furniture designs emerging that are surprisingly stylish. Many are good enough to use inside the home as well as outdoors. Time to throw open the doors and take the living room outside.
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Dvelas is a Spanish furniture company founded by architect Enrique Kahle Olaso. Famed for making the most of redundant polyester boat sails that are no longer fit for purpose, Dvelas has created a range of designs that upcycle the fabric to its full potential. The material is ideal for crafting outdoor furniture as it’s extremely durable and weatherproof.
This Cunningham chair is part of their latest collection (a cunningham is a sailing term that refers to a type of rigging that allows you change the shape of the sail). The chair comes in natural or black and is made from recovered sail, sycamore wood and marine plywood.
NAVY 111 CHAIR
The Navy 111 Chair in Charcoal is modelled on the on the original 1006 Navy chair made from recycled aluminium. This chair was first built for use on submarines in 1944 and has been in continuous production ever since.
For the Navy 111, Pennsylvania furniture company Emeco collaborated with Coca-Cola to create the same design from 111 recycled plastic bottles. They estimate that production will keep 3 million plastic coke bottles out of landfill each year. The chair is suitable for outdoor use and is also available in Persimmon orange, Red, Grass and White. Available at Made in Design.*
The Desert Series of chairs by Ferm Living* are made in Denmark from powder coated steel and recycled plastic. Each chair has a hand woven canvas made from 55 plastic bottles. Matching cushions are also included in the range.
ECO BIRDY kids chair
With the aim of finding an alternative to the sludgy grey colours of conventional recycled plastic, Belgian brand ecoBirdy spent two years developing a patented material they call ecothylene®. No pigments are added as the colour is derived from its source material, which makes it 100% recyclable.
The range for kids also includes a table, portable lamp and Kiwi bird shaped portable container, all of which can be used indoors or out. Pictured is the award-winning kids Charlie Chair in Strawberry.
recycled plastic bottle path hammock
Ordinarily, a hammock is not one you can leave outdoors… uncovered… especially in the UK. But it can at least be easily stowed away until long summer afternoons call for a siesta in the shade.
The Relax chair is by the Dutch designer Ineke Hans and forms part of a larger outdoor furniture collection named Ordinary Furniture, which she developed over the years 1997-2005. The chair has visible ‘woodgrains’ and plank-like components, but is actually made from recycled black plastic.
tip ton re chair
The Tip Ton RE by Barber Osberby for Vitra is made from post-consumer recycled polypropylene and is 100% recyclable. It’s an update on the original Tip Ton chair which was designed in 2011. A key feature of the chair is that it can tilt forwards which straightens the pelvis and spine. Available to buy from twentytwentyone.
Bell Chair is a stackable, lightweight chair designed by Konstantin Grcic for Italian brand Magis. It’s made from industrial waste from the company’s production facilities using the process of injection moulding, which makes it very quick to produce. The chair is made from 100% recycled polypropylene which also makes it recyclable. Available in three colours from Chaplins (£320 for a set of 4).
Another genius example of recycled outdoor furniture, again by Dvelas, is the delightfully squishy Génois bean bag. These are again made from upcycled boat sail fabric and make for a thoroughly comfortable seat both indoors or out. The chair comes in a range of sizes and would be perfect for poolside lounging.
ALFRESCO DINING CHAIR
Loll Designs is an American brand specialising in outdoor furniture made from 100% recycled plastic, mainly sourced from single use milk jugs. This is the stackable Alfresco dining chair in charcoal grey, but if you’d rather have a pop of colour, it also comes in 12 juicy colours including apple red, sunset orange and leaf green.
The award-winning Ocean Collection table and chair by Mater is a rework of an old design from 1955. It’s made from ocean waste plastic and recycled plastic (PP) and is designed for disassembly, meaning each component in its purest form can be recycled into new production cycles. Available to buy at Amara*.
N.B. This is an updated article that was originally published in 2017