Deck out your outdoor space with shopping bags

With summer steadily approaching, several homeowners may be gearing up to tackle an outdoor deck project just in time to enjoy the warm weather and fire up the barbeque. For those of you who are considering your options, now you can make an eco-friendly one—with recycled plastics. Growing in popularity over the past few years, this versatile decking option is made from recycled high-density polyethylene plastics which are heated and combined  with other materials such as pigments and UV blockers—and even wood fibers to make "composites"—before being molded into items such as decking planks, posts and spindles.


High-performance composite decking from Trex.

Recognized as the “greenest” leader in the industry, Trex Company (Winchester, VA), the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing, claims that much of its plastic comes from 1.5 billion plastic shopping bags, or about 7 out of every 10 in the United States, which makes them the largest plastic bag recyclers in the U.S. They also don't use any virgin wood, using mill waste and old pallets instead. The plastic and sawdust is combined to form decking that is attractive, long-lasting and maintenance-free.

And, according to the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) there are numerous benefits to going with composite decking:

Mississauga, Ontario, CANADA, there are numerous benefits to going with composite decking:
  • Low maintenance: Recycled plastic decking requires very little maintenance; you typically can keep your deck clean simply by sweeping or hosing off dirt and debris, as needed.

  • Long lasting: Recycled plastic decks are extremely durable and resistant to decay and weather damage. Because the color is molded into the material, they don't require re-painting or re-staining. Plus they resist stains, cracks, splinters, scuffs, mold, mildew, and pesky wood boring insects.
  • DIY-friendly: Some recycled plastic decking includes practical fasteners and hidden decking screws that make installation and repairs easy for handy homeowners. Beyond good looks and convenience, decks made with recycled plastics can leave a lighter environmental footprint. For example:
  • Recycled plastics: Recycled plastic decking helps give new life to valuable materials and keeps them out of landfills. For example, Trex states that an average 500-square-foot deck made with their plastic composite decking contains 140,000 recycled plastic bags.
  • Less frequent replacement: Thanks to their durability, recycled plastic decks can last a long time, which helps conserve materials over time.
  • LEED credits: A deck made with recycled plastics might help a home earn points in the Canada Green Building Council LEED program, potentially contributing to the total points needed to obtain LEED certification.

Homeowners can also incorporate recycled plastics into projects beyond decking, such as planters, stairs, fencing, patio furniture and more.

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