Last year the Chicago Park District logged its millionth pound of plastics collected and recycled in its Plastic on Parks ongoing program, reports American Metal Market, a daily newspaper that tracks the worldwide metals and materials markets.

Patrons of more than 500 parks, playgrounds and fieldhouses have brought plastic containers, milk jugs, water bottles and bleach and detergent bottles to collection points where unacceptable containers are removed and the remainder crushed into 750-pound bales.These are shipped to a plastic recycling center where they are converted into several sizes of plastic "lumber." This is returned to the district, which then makes park benches, walkways, retaining walls and floating docks.

The unusual feature of the Chicago program is that the actual materials collected and processed are sent back to their place of origin. This acts as an incentive for people to bring in their material because they see the recycled material put to good use in the parks they frequent.

While "plastic lumber" costs somewhat more than pressurized lumber for the same application, the plastic type is virtually indestructible, is harder than wood, is impervious to casual wear, resists spray-painted graffiti and lasts almost indefinitely.