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Plastic Ocean Debris Recycled into Planter Pots

Plastic Ocean Debris Recycled into Planter Pots
Bloem's three-year development culminates in the Ocean Series planters made with 25% marine waste and 75% curbside waste that launch exclusively at Lowe's.

It’s the planting and blooming time of year when time of year when pots and planters return in broad-based favor as winter begrudgingly relinquishes to spring its frozen foothold in the northern hemisphere.

And appropriately, with Earth Day celebrated next week on April 22, Bloem, a Hudsonville, MI, manufacturer of planters, is introducing a 100% recycled product, the Ocean Series, exclusively at Lowe's. Designed for a lifetime of reuse, the planters will divert more than a million pounds of plastic waste using a mix of 25% marine waste and 75% curbside waste.

Bloem began planning the Ocean Series three years ago, which included a shift in its manufacturing process to make use of ocean bound plastic in its planters. Ocean plastic presents challenges with color consistency, but Bloem's efforts in material development solved the problem. The result? Products with colors that appeal to consumers, are consistent in nature and style that consumers will want to keep around for years to come.

PlasticsToday marks Earth Day’s 50th anniversary April 22 with a series of articles highlighting the real efforts that the plastics industry is taking to mitigate plastic pollution and develop effective and viable sustainable solutions. You can find all of the relevant content by typing “Earth Day 2020” in the search box at the top of the page.

Ocean Series Planter Manufacturing Process highlights:

  1. Bloem partners with recycling organizations that collect waste such as water bottles, straws, packaging, crates, baskets, buoys, etc., from shorelines throughout Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Canada;
  2. Ocean waste is removed from the resin supply and the base material is moved into processing;
  3. Bloem's recycling partner readies the ocean plastic material for manufacturing;
  4. In order to achieve a consistent vibrant blue color, Bloem blends in recycled plastic (post-consumer content) to create a stable manufacturing-ready resin;
  5. Bloem manufactures the flower pots at its Apopka, FL, facility, to produce the best-quality Ocean Plastic Planter made in the US.

Sorting through color consistency.

The Lowe's series kicks off in an Ocean Blue color for good reason, Don Lundberg, the company’s VP, operations, tells PlasticsToday.

“For our requirements, we obtain the recycled pellets in a green/blue shade," he explains. "Each time the recycle process is run for the conversion of the ocean waste into a reprocessed pellet, as you would expect from the recycled content, it has color variation from batch to batch. To meet our customer color standards, we run our product line with a color concentrate termed ocean denim blue. We use 2% colorant with our ocean resin and post-consumer resin to achieve the desired color. This concentrate was co-developed at Bloem with our colorant supplier and is specifically formulated to work only with our ocean resin program.”

The result is a range of polypropylene-based planters. "The specific blends are formulated in our plant to meet our injection-molded processing standards and customer’s quality and color standards, " adds Lundberg.

Ryan Mast, president and co-founder, relates that since Bloem's inception, the company had considered how to innovate in a space that's seen relatively little change in more than 40 years. "We've looked at different shapes, colors, sizes, and styles, and what we've found is that we can have the greatest impact by changing the material that we put into the product. What's unique about this opportunity is that this plastic isn't going into a product that is just going to be discarded a couple months down the road. We are introducing the materials to a product that will have purpose for years to come."

The series includes a 6-inch, 8-inch, and 12-inch round planter and a 24-inch rectangular window box. The products are available online and in all Lowe's stores nationwide in the Garden Department.

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