Department of Natural Resources
Recycled Plastic Lumber Project
On Earth Day 1995, employees from General Electric in Mt. Vernon partnered with Harmonie State Park to build a viewing platform and four bridges made out of 150,000 recycled milk jugs- all from Indiana- for the use of park visitors. This group of employees is part of the Elfun Society, a GE employee organization that does one service project per year- they apply for grants to purchase supplies and volunteer their time to provide labor for the chosen project.
Harmonie State Park was the lucky benefactor of the Elfun Society's 1995 recycled plastic lumber project. As a result of the successful integration of recycled plastic lumber into the State Park, the Department of Natural Resources has begun to explore using recycled plastic lumber in other parks. According to John Bergman, Assistant Director for State Parks and Reservoirs, "DNR has found recycled plastic lumber to be superior to treated wood lumber for certain applications because it is impervious to insects, does not rot, does not splinter, can be easily cleaned and does not need to be stained or painted over time. The savings in maintenance costs make up for the initial costs of the lumber, which in most cases is more than for treated wood."
Not only does the use of this material support the recycling industry in Indiana, it also provides a more durable product that creates a minimum impact on the environment- treated lumber has come under scrutiny in recent years for it's potential to emit chemicals into the air and water.
Thanks to the Elfun Society and DNR for working together to test this new, environmentally preferable material for use in State projects!