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Use of Recycled Plastics Versus Wood

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Technical note

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This technical note provides information on the present and potential uses of recycled plastic timbers in parks and recreation areas. Observations of direct onsite application have determined that recycled plastics are a cost-saving alternative to traditional lumber and wood products in certain applications. Two sites--Hartwell Lake and the Old Faithful Area of Yellowstone National Park--are cited here. Over the past few years, innovations in the design and construction of recycled post-consumer plastics have become a favorable way to save money and protect the environment. With the recent introduction of recycled plastic timbers, this efficient application is gaining popularity as a durable, long-lasting alternative to the creosote-treated timbers and pressurized lumber used for decades. In the arena of outdoor recreation, new technologies, products, and services are resulting in better and more effective means for providing recreational facilities across the nation. Creosote-treated crossties, decking on courtesy docks, etc., and wooden playground facilities are being replaced at Hartwell Lake and throughout other projects in the U.S. Army Engineer District, Savannah. Although possibly less aesthetically pleasing, plastics, especially recycled plastics, are proving to be more durable and longer lasting than conventional wood products. These products typically come with up to a 50-year manufacturer warranty and are alleged to have a life expectancy equivalent to glass. Manufactured in 100-percent plastic or a mixture of 50 percent plastic-50 percent wood, these products are available in most shapes and sizes comparable to lumber. They can also be handled like lumber.

Subject Categories:

  • Miscellaneous Materials
  • Plastics
  • Wood, Paper and Related Forestry Products

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