6 Companies That Use Recycled Materials To Make New Products

Posted by Daniel Cain on

Here at Recycled & Renewed (R&R) we have uncovered tons of companies out there using recycled plastic, paper, and cardboard to make their products and reduce waste.  We rigorously test every product before it makes it on our site (here is our full list of tested and approved products made from recycled material).

In this post we’ll introduce companies making their products from 100% recycled plastic or other materials, delivering their products in 100% recycled material, and diverting tons of plastic from landfills every year.  We will also spotlight another company with an inspiring social mission and an environmentally conscious approach to business that includes accepting their used products back for recycling.

The Recycling Industry Needs You!

First, some background.  The recycling industry is in crisis.  In response to our growing trade war, China has tightened its rules for accepting recyclable material.

And guess what? In the past, most of the stuff you put in your recycling bin ended up in China.

Local governments, cities, and waste facilities are awash in recyclable material.  Material prices have cratered, increasing incentives to divert recyclables straight to the landfill or to cancel recycling programs completely.

The companies below are doing their part to address this crisis and build demand for products made from recycled material.

Preserve Household Goods

Preserve might be our favorite company in the recycled products world.  You could almost outfit most of your house with Preserve's products.  They sell a version of almost every household good you need made of recycled plastic.

 

These are the Preserve products we've tested and love:

  • Indestructible 16 oz. cups made from old yogurt containers - made from 100% recycled plastic and also totally recyclable (though they are durable and will last a lifetime).
  • Mini 8 oz. food storage containers - These cute little containers are perfect for bringing a small snack to the office, for the kid's lunch, or for keeping a sauce fresh in the refrigerator.  
  • Preserve toothbrushes - This is what got us hooked to Preserve's stuff, perfect for adults or post-toddler age children, they are recyclable, and of course made from recycled plastic.  Once our daughter hit 6 years hold, we switched from the kid size, which also works great for smaller kids.

We love Preserve for other reasons too.  First, we basically share a similar origination story (more about the inspiration behind R&R here).  

The founder Eric Hudson saw that although Americans were putting ample materials into the recycling stream, it would not get used unless manufacturers used it to make things (of course he figured this out 20 years before us...better late than never though I guess).  

Their mission statement, which we love, is “To help reduce the harm caused by the industrial age by demonstrating that consumer products can be both fabulous and lighter on the earth”.  This could practically be inserted onto our site, they are like R&R’s soul mate!

Secondly, they partnered with like-minded companies and started their own recycling program, called Gimme 5, so customers could send back their products after they were done with them and Preserve could recycle them again.  We have a bag of Preserve toothbrushes sitting in our closet waiting to be recycled right now.  

Thirdly, Preserve does an awesome job limiting packaging waste. We were pleasantly shocked how little packaging accompanied their set of four 16 oz. bowls. The four bowls were simply taped together with a small sticker strip. BTW, the sticker had a great slogan on it: "Reuse Forever, or return it and we will." How cool is that?! The world would be a different place, environmentally speaking, if more companies were as thoughtful as Preserve. 

 They also started a program called Shareware which seeks to promote the reuse of their products for parties (I cringe when I see all the plastic going straight into the trash at kids' parties).  

Preserve's site tells a compelling story about the environmental benefits of using recycled material, so you can tell they are true believers in their approach, no greenwashing going on here.

Recycled Rugs from Fab Habitat

Fab Habitat has an amazing line of beautiful, eco-friendly, and environmentally sustainable options for rugs, small storage furniture, and pillows made from recycled materials.  Their largest rug, made from 100% recycled plastic, uses the equivalent of 666 plastic bottles!
They sell products made of 100% recycled plastic (we have a rug from that line, more about it below), softer rugs made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, rugs made of 100% recycled cotton, and environmentally friendly jute rugs, among other items.
We have been using this particular rug (slightly smaller version) pictured below as a patio rug out back of our house.  It is made from 100% recycled plastic, is durable and perfect for a patio, mud room, kids play room, or some other high traffic area.  It has sat outside in an area that is prone to mold but it has held up well, picking up little to no mold. 
It is very washable, just hose it off or if necessary, scrub with a hard bristle brush.  
The material feels plastic-y, so I wouldn't use this in my living room (though other reviewers seemed to use it inside).  I think it could also work as a rug for an area where you expect high traffic or need something very durable. 
As mentioned, Fab Habitat has other eco-friendly rugs made from recycled cotton that are likely much softer, we are excited to try those out soon (I'll update this post after the testing period is over).
They also have rugs made from recycled water bottles, which I know from experience can be transformed into very soft material.  I look forward to trying more of their products in the near future.
Although there is limited info on the site about how to dispose of the rugs, it seems very likely that you can throw the 100% recycled plastic rug in the recycling can when done with them (though they seem very durable and will likely last a long time).
Fab Habitat isn't especially notable on social responsibility.  They are certified by Good Weave, a non-profit that ensures child labor is not used in the supply chain, which is commendable.
The site also mentions some charitable interests, but they are not a B Corporation nor do they have much information about their environmental or social impact.  And as mentioned, Fab Habitat doesn't provide much info on disposing of their products nor does it seem like they'll take them back at the end of their life to be repurposed.

100% Recycled Plastic Compost Bin - A Two'fer for Reducing Waste

Don't be afraid of composting, it is not as hard as people make it out to be, reduces your landfill trash by 25-50%, and opens up a whole new world of compostable products that nature recycles for you.

Get on board in reducing your waste, plus use up a boatload of post-consumer plastic with this 100% recycled plastic compost bin.

Composting has a huge impact on climate changeThrowing organic waste into a landfill produces methane, a climate changing gas 34 times worse than CO2.  

This compost bin is durable, made from a hard, thick 100% recycled plastic and in theory can eventually be recycled, though I doubt you'll ever need to discard this thing since you'll fall in love with composting and the product will last forever.

Seventh Generation Is Still Your Go-To Option

Buying Seventh Generation products is a great place to start if you want to start reducing your environmental footprint.  Seventh Generation is like a forefather (or fore-mother) of companies following sustainable business practices. 
They are a leader in this space and most of their products packaged in 100% recycled material, or very close to a 100%.  
They even sell toilet paper made from 100% recycled paper.  I should mention that regular toilet paper made from newly chopped down trees is a bit softer, but  do you really need beautifully woven silk napkins to wipe your butt?!  I think not, seems like a small sacrifice to save some trees and I know you are up to it!
Though Seventh Generation is owned by a large multinational corporation, specifically Unilever, the company has taken steps to maintain it's environmental sustainability and social responsibility goals. 
Also, Unilever is a leader in the corporate space in terms of reducing its negative impact on society as well.  Although we try to support small businesses as much as possible, I personally feel like it is good to support large corporations that are trying to do right by the Earth.  We want to show that people will reward responsible business practices, if even if it means spending an extra fifty cents on home goods products.

Green Toys

The Onion recently ran a piercingly hilarious “article” about a child entertained for 5 minutes by plastic toy that will take 1,000 years to biodegrade.  It is funny because it is a true but depressing observation about the ridiculously wasteful nature of plastic.  Who needs a toy that last hundreds of years?  Unless that toy is going to be melted down made into something else numerous times.

Enter Green Toys stage left!  You can feel good about adding Green Toys’ indestructible construction trucks, bath toys, and other awesome stuff made of recycled milk jugs to your child's toy room.  Green Toys has an extensive line of eco-friendly, environmentally sustainable toys made from recycled plastic, mostly made from milk jugs but also yogurt cups and such.  

 

Green Toys makes all of its toys here in the US.  They are approaching 60 million milk jugs recycled into new products.  If you wanted to you could fulfill all of a child's playroom needs with toys made from recycled plastic with this company. They also use recycled material for their packaging, including recycled cardboard and recycled plastic bottles.  

We have their construction truck, as well as numerous other toys from their collection, and we are very satisfied.  Their eco-friendly products are constructed of thick plastic, much more solid than most flimsy plastic toys, and our son has been unable to destroy it despite numerous attempts (ha ha, kidding but he plays rough).  Of course, Green Toys products can also be recycled at the end of their life, but as I said, these toys are solid and will likely be passed down to multiple families through garage sales and trips to Goodwill.

Sustainable Toys from Tegu 

Tegu’s magnetic blocks are awesome, so I would recommend them even if they didn’t have a heart warming and inspiring origination story, use environmentally sustainable practices, and promote recycling and reuse of materials.  

The owners, two brothers, started their journey with the question, “Could we create a for-profit company based in Honduras that would foster a positive social impact through its business?”  According to the CIA factbook, Honduras is the 170th poorest country in the world.  And if you have been watching the news about immigration in the U.S., you should be aware that many of the people from Central America migrating to our country are fleeing unstable conditions in Honduras, among other Central American countries.  

 

Tegu is is focused on creating a beacon of hope, through economic development, fair wages, and stable employment for its 200 employees to catalyze change in Honduras.  Plus, Americans, whether they know it or not, owe Hondurans a little help after the less than noble actions that our government has taken throughout Honduran history (it was one of the original banana republics and we've kind of messed around there more recently as well).  

The company uses environmentally sustainable practices to harvest the wood for their blocks and other toys, using local hardwood that is abundant in Honduran forests.  Also, they will accept their used products, in fact they are pleading with customers (see the bottom of the FAQs) not to throw their blocks away.  Tegu will pay the shipping so they can renew their blocks and reuse them rather than having them end up in a landfill.  

Finally, their products (we own this collection) are thoughtfully designed and very high quality, a toy that is timeless and will entertain kids and nurture their imaginations for hours on end.  A great product that you can feel good about buying for your burgeoning engineers and builders!

Who Are We Missing?

Any tips or recommendations for companies using recycled materials we should check out?  Post them in the comment section below and we'll test out their products!

Photo credits:

Plastic Duck photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

 


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2 comments

  • Hi Patricia,

    The short answer is no, I don’t. I did a quick search on Etsy to see if anyone is making things out of old floor plans, I know old maps are very popular, including old survey maps of plots of land (we have one from the turn of the century framed in our house).

    I’ve only dealt with floor plans a bit in my day job (this is a side thing I do for “fun”), but the ones I’ve handled seemed to be made of paper, albeit thick big roles of paper.

    Not sure if your local area accepts paper for recycling, but if so I’d say it is fine to recycle it that way.

    Thanks for reading!

    Dan

    Dan on
  • Thank you for the article, it was very imformative to me. I was curious if your company knows about companies that recycle old floor plans?

    Patricia on

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