Ipswich social enterprise rides wave of Blue Planet-inspired plastics war

Eco Furniture team at the Ipswich factory. Back, from left: Shaun Payne, Jason Fiddaman, Paul Winter

Eco Furniture team at the Ipswich factory. Back, from left: Shaun Payne, Jason Fiddaman, Paul Winterflood, Tony Bright, Jason English, Paul Richmond. Front, from left: Michael Earthroll, Kirsty Vale and Paul Pester. Picture: REALISE FUTURES - Credit: Realise Futures

An Ipswich firm is putting recycled plastics to good use - as it rides the wave of the ‘Blue Planet effect’.

The Eco Furniture team with one of their 100% recycled benches. Back, from left: Paul Winterflood, S

The Eco Furniture team with one of their 100% recycled benches. Back, from left: Paul Winterflood, Shaun Payne, Paul Richmond, Jason Fiddaman, Jason English and Paul Pester. Front, from left: Michael Earthroll, Kirsty Vale and Tony Bright. Picture: REALISE FUTURES - Credit: Realise Futures

Suffolk social enterprise Eco Furniture, which works with disadvantaged and disabled people, is helping to keep the tide of plastic waste at bay with its 100% recycled outdoor furniture.

Its furniture and play equipment, made from recycled plastic planks, are shipped all over the country. Products range from picnic benches, tables, signs, planters, play equipment, picnic tables, bus shelters and log stores. The company, part of Realise Futures, also makes bespoke outdoor furniture.

Operations manager Lee Caraccio said people were interested in the fact that recycled plastic does not need retreating or repainting, and is crack, chip and splinter-proof, insect and animal resistant, and less flammable than timber.

The team at the firm’s Lovetofts Drive furniture factory includes people who have been long-term unemployed, who have had health conditions which have made it difficult for them to sustain employment, or who are disabled and/or disadvantaged.


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“The so-called Blue Planet effect resulting from Sir David Attenborough’s revealing nature documentary has shone light on the problem of plastic waste, and just what effect it is having on the environment and marine life,” said Lee.

“The programme seems to have kick-started the consumer war on plastic, ranging from campaigns to get supermarkets to provide plastic-free food aisles to calls for single-use coffee cups and plastic straws to be banned.

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“We hope that people in our community, as well as nationally, will recognise the benefit to the environment of buying garden furniture made from recycled plastic waste which would have ended up in landfill sites - things like CD and DVD cases, plastic bottles, plastic carrier bags and plastic containers.”

The firm has made bins and planters for wildlife attraction Colchester Zoo, a play tractor at Jimmy’s Farm, an Anglo-Saxon long boat for the play area of Suffolk heritage site Sutton Hoo, and play galleon ships and cars for schools and councils. Waste plastic is shredded, ground up, and the pellets produced are heated to a very high temperature and forced into plank moulds. The firm is supplied with the planks, which it makes into furniture.

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