Reusing and Recycling Plastic Containers

By: Allen Lyle


Plastic jugs can be re-used for everything from bird feeders to scoops.

I always get a real kick out of some of the creative ways to re-use items, especially when it comes to doing arts and crafts with my daughter. I’m a big milk drinker, so there’s always an empty jug or two around the house. We’ve converted them into bird feeders, piggy banks and even giant sand scoops.

I don’t know if you’ve ever taken a look on the bottom of milk jugs before, but if you look closely, you can see a little triangle-type symbol with a number “2” inside. Or, it might just be some initials reading, “HDPE.” This means the jug is made from High Density Polyethylene, which is used to make a great plastic composite sheeting.


Fencing from recycled plastic.

While piggy banks and bird feeders can be fun little projects, they really don’t make a huge dent out of re-using this versatile plastic. What can make a dent, though, is to recycle them to be used in a composite fencing material. Take the average sized backyard and surround it with a 6-foot high HDPE fence and you will have over 28,000 milk jugs in your yard!

The nice thing about this type of fencing is that, in addition to looking really good, it won’t rot or decay . . . insects can’t destroy it . . . and it’s virtually maintenance-free. I say virtually because you’ll still have to wash it down once a year or so to get the dirt off.

And don’t think you’ll be stuck with only a milk-jug-white fence. A lot of the manufacturers have been able to refine their process so the plastic looks and feels like real wood. Of course, if fencing isn’t your cup of tea, the same plastics can be used in composite decking.


Composite decking made from recycled plastic.

Have I told you about plastic carpet yet? Take my word, it’s not what you think. Next time, I’ll have to tell you the story about the Black Rhinoceros that used some of it to carpet his whole living space! So, the next time you polish off a gallon of milk, unless you just really, REALLY need a bird feeder . . . recycle it!

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