From earth to space find out what recycled plastic is helping make possible

Sustainability |  2 min. read

What’s the connection between these…

And these…

(Photo from Emeco)



Now, if xylene sounds like something that belongs in outer space, you’re not wrong.  It IS used in making space suits.  But xylene, which is a petrochemical (meaning, it’s a chemical produced from petroleum and natural gas) – is also used to make a lot of things that we use down here on Earth, like soda bottles.

In between xylene and a Coke bottle, there are various chemical reactions to produce a plastic known as PET (or if you want the long version, polyethylene terephthalate).

And in between a Coke bottle and those chairs, is another process:  recycling.

Because these American-made chairs, the 111 Navy Collection from Emeco, are each made from – yes, 111 Coke bottles.

That’s the explanation of the “111”.  The explanation of “Navy” in the name, is that Emeco got its start during World War II, making chairs (out of recycled aluminum) for the U.S. Navy.

 That original was the “1006 Navy Chair,” but no, we don’t know the explanation for the 1006.  You can still buy them though, even if you’ve never been to sea in your life.

Here’s how Emeco tells the story of the 111:

Coca-Cola had a lot of discarded plastic bottles.  They approach us.  ‘Let’s make something people won’t throw away.’  Sensible on many fronts.  But easy?  No.

111 Navy requires 111 rPET8 Coke bottles, new science and a lot of hard work.  But this partnership could rescue tons of scrap plastic from landfills.  So…we’re in.

Every weekday ten truckloads of PET bales consisting of more than 20,000 bottles arrive for processing to the recycling plant.  These bottles are sorted, ground, and washed to become the primary material used in our 111 Navy Chair.

Plastic.  So useful.  So abundant.  And so hard to get rid of.  Unless you stop thinking ‘landfill’ and start thinking ‘legacy’.  The goal is to make things people keep.  It may be the world’s first plastic heirloom.

Pretty smart.  And sensible.

Now, back in 1944, it wasn’t as easy to run across an Emeco chair.  Unless you were serving on one of these…

(Photo from Emeco)

Today though, you could be sitting on one in your kitchen.  So remember, next time you finish a bottle of Coke, don’t toss it – you might be holding your next set of chairs.

You can find out more about Emeco, and see all the chairs, here.

(And that “r” in “rPET”.  Stands for “recycled”.)