What’s Behind Recycled Outdoor Furniture Pricing and Long Lead Times-Updated 10-18-22

Cambridge 4ft backed bench resting against stone wall in downtown Grand Ledge Michigan
Cambridge 4ft Backed Bench
Recycled Outdoor Furniture, Cambridge 4' bench

Post-consumer recycled plastic buying frenzy

The past two years have been nothing short of a rollercoaster in our recycled outdoor furniture industry.  Covid stalled business then it supported a surge when outdoor learning, dining and living grew in popularity.  We, like others in our industry, couldn’t make product fast enough.  The industry was booming until the February Freeze of 2021.

The 10-day disaster in oil country caused extended shut-downs and strangled virgin plastic producers.  Consequently, manufacturers across all industries scrambled to find plastic sources to keep their plants open and maintain production.  Those companies jumped into the recycled plastics markets, grabbing whatever they could to keep their production online.  With a limited supply of high-quality recycled HDPE, pricing took off like a rocket!  Raw materials in general – metals, lumber, cardboard, colorants – everything is impacted by rising costs.  Some vendors even shredded their contracts and stamp a price on an order when it’s ready to ship.  Others are using whatever they can find for raw materials, including virgin resins.  We don’t do business that way.

Then came another, albeit shorter, freeze in 2022 coupled with the fact that corporate sustainability statements further compound supply issues and pricing.  As mega-corporations commit to using more recycled materials in their products and packaging, they increase demand for the very feedstock we need and nobody wanted in the past. In addition, the competition for feedstock intensifies as they close in on their stated deadlines regarding recycled content.  The latest hit to our industry results from the conflict in Ukraine, as mining in that region supported mineral and colorant manufacturers in the US.

Why are lead times so long in the outdoor furniture industry?

Pricing and lead times for domestic products are being impacted by these events and others, in both the recycled plastic and metal furniture sectors.  Rising transportation costs are also affecting the materials markets and delivery of finished goods.  The good news is that we continue to use ONLY recycled HDPE and our raw material suppliers have been very supportive in keeping us stocked and aren’t price-gouging but maintain fair market costs.  You can trust you are getting exactly what we advertise, although it will take a little longer to get it.

Have you noticed that hurricane seasons are starting earlier as our planet and oceans warm?  Weather also affects supplies due to flooding and power outages on top of unusual seasonal weather such as freezes in the deep south.  We are seeing more import products on competitor websites as they scurry to find product available for sale.  They can order it, but the imports still have to get off the ships anchored off the U.S. coasts and then they must find a carrier to transport to their warehouse.  The carbon footprint for a proclaimed “eco-friendly product” defies the very definition of eco-friendly.

USA! USA! USA! Buying domestic products is good for everyone

Buying locally sourced material is a huge benefit to our business, and we are proud to continue our Made in America tradition.  Good recycling practices help bolster high-quality feedstock supplies, which in turn would reduce costs and lead times.  Your participation is also vital to ensuring there is enough recycled plastic available to us and the corporate customers who are competing for our feedstock.  Additional benefits are the jobs created, and a greener, cleaner America by reduced plastic pollution and landfill waste.  And again we’ll  mention the lower carbon footprint resulting from products made in the USA.  Imports are bad business for multiple reasons, including the lack of air-quality standards in overseas manufacturing and increased transportation as they ride an oil-guzzling freighter across oceans to get here.  Then there is their final journey, from wherever the cargo ship landed to the vendors warehouse.  Buying American made reduces greenhouse gases.

One drop seems insignificant, but billions of drops make up ponds, lakes and oceans.  Don’t underestimate the impact your good choices make every day.  Recycling at home and work supports US businesses and a sustainable future.

We appreciate your business and promise, it will be worth the wait.

UPDATE APRIL 6, 2022  CREDIT PLASTICS RECYCLING UPDATE, Analysts say higher PCR prices are the new normal, by Jared Paben


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