How Plastic Recycled Mountain Mats are Made

Mountain Mat is committed to helping reduce the amount of plastic waste in our environment by manufacturing our plastic mats from 100% recycled polypropylene. Learn about the manufacturing process of our recycled polypropylene plastic outdoor mats.

What are recycled plastic mats (and where do I use them)?

Plastic outdoor mats are large ‘rugs’ woven from 100% recycled polypropylene.  They come in a variety of sizes and are perfect for picnics, tent camping, and setting outside your RV.

What is Polypropylene Plastic?

Polypropylene is a type of plastic that is widely regarded as one of the most versatile and environmentally friendly of all plastics.  You can find all sorts of products around your home manufactured from polypropylene: lunch boxes, butter containers, syrup bottles, medicine bottles, and plastic toys!  Polypropylene plastic is very durable and that makes it a great choice for manufacturers who want to produce quality, long-lasting products.

Even better — polypropylene is recyclable!  Its durability makes this plastic a top choice for manufacturing recycled products.  Recently eco-conscious companies like Mountain Mat are taking advantage of these recycled materials to produce new products from waste that would otherwise be polluting our environment.

CHARACTERISTICS OF POLYPROPYLENE

  • Resistant to bacteria, odors, mold, moisture, mildew, and rot – it can be used for extended periods of time indoor and outdoor without damage
  • Chemically resistant to most oils and solvents – meaning it is easy to clean and resists staining, and won’t break down easily
  • High Melting point means it can be used in the microwave
  • Color fastness properties allow color to be added to the polypropylene without degradation of the strength and durability
  • Resistant to cracking and stress, even when flexed, so its perfect for non-load bearing hinges (like flip caps on bottles)
  • Extremely durable
  • IT IS RECYCLABLE! Used polypropylene can be melted down and reformed into plastic pellets which are then used to make new products – such as outdoor mats like Mountain Mat.

Recycled Plastic Mats Manufacturing Process

Mountain Mat’s recycled outdoor mats are designed in the USA.  Once the design specs are approved, we have a sample mat created in one of our approved factories in Asia to ensure colors, design, and product specs are exactly as envisioned.  Once the sample mat is approved, the manufacturing process begins!

Used polypropylene plastics are collected from various sources and include items such as water bottles, medicine containers, food containers, and single-use shopping bags.  These used plastic products are chopped up in a grinder and then melted down to a thick liquid.  That liquid is cooled into little pellets which are then sold to companies who manufacture their products from recycled polypropylene. (Like Mountain Mat!)

polypropylene granules

Specific coloring based on Mountain Mat’s designs are mixed in with the recycled polypropylene pellets.  Then this mixture is re-melted into a thick liquid.

man at a big mixing pot of polypropylene granules

To make the long straws that are woven into the Mountain Mat, the liquid is fed through a tube and then pushed out into a pool of water.  The water cools the plastic as it passes through and allows it to be formed into long tubes (like a straw).  The machine can be set to produce tubes in any thickness – from very thin and cheap to thicker and more expensive.  Mountain Mat Originals are manufactured using straws with a 550g weight – the thickest in the industry.

Drying straws of PP — ready to weave.

polypropylene rug manufacture warehouse

At our factory, Jack and his factory staff perform thorough quality control to ensure that all the plastic straws are exact color and weight.  Any subpar straws are removed and recycled.

red and orange recycled polypropylene straws

Once the polypropylene straws are completed and have been through quality control, they are cut to size and loaded on the looms that will assist the weavers with creating the mats.

orange polypropylene straws

Each mechanical loom has a dedicated staff member to oversee the entire weaving process.  Machines do not run by themselves – they merely assist with the weaving process by the staff weaver.  The staff weaver ensures each loop of ‘straw’ is thread onto the loom at the correct time and place for the design.

Mountain Mat weaving loom

weaving loom for recycled outdoor camping mats

As mats are finished on the loom, they are then put onto a large roll which can hold up to 200 of the Mountain Mat Original size mats at a time.  The roll is then taken to the cutting section of the factory where hot irons are used to cut each mat to size and seal all the edge threads.

Sewing the edging onto a Mountain Mat

sewing edging onto outdoor camping mats

Next Mountain Mats have a black durable edging sewn onto all four sides of the mats which prevents fraying and ensures the mats lie flat when unfolded.

Reversible Outdoor Camping Mat

Finally is the Factory Quality Control – staff workers personally inspect each mat for any defects in the weave, color, or stitching.  Any mat that does not pass this quality check is put in the recycle pile.

woman sewing an outdoor camping mat edgin

Finished, approved mats are loaded onto pallets where they are sent to our warehouse in Georgia, USA.  Upon arrival each mat is personally inspected by Mountain Mat staff to ensure 100% adherence to the strict quality standards.

Tight weave, accurate color, perfect edging

Mountain Mats are the perfect example of how we can re-purpose plastic waste into useful, durable, quality products that enhance our world!  Thank you for being part of the recycling movement by supporting Mountain Mat and other companies who use recycled plastics!

Mountain Mat USA

Jennifer Hillberg is the Founder and Creator of Mountain Mat, LLC, the USA’s first 100% recycled plastic, reversible, outdoor recreation mat. As an avid outdoor recreationalist, Jennifer has hiked and camped in some of the world’s most remote places alongside her husband and three children. Learn more about The Mountain Mat Story.