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PlasTEAK Plastic Paneling

PlasTEAK is made with 100% post-consumer recycled HDPE in a paraffin base—the boards become more slip-resistant when wet… Read more
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  • Using materials recovered from the waste stream typically results in less waste, pollution, and energy use than using virgin materials. From an environmental standpoint, post-consumer is typically considered preferable to pre-consumer recycled content because post-consumer recycled materials are more likely to have been diverted from landfills.

    In some cases, we consider products with recycled content green but with some caveats regarding where they should be used. For example, rubber flooring made from recycled automobile tires should not be used in most fully enclosed indoor spaces due to the likelihood of VOC emissions.

    Recycling can have downsides. For example, some studies show that curbside collection programs and some recycling processes use more energy than they save. Closed-loop recycling is generally preferable to “down-cycling,” in which a lower-grade material is produced—but due to contamination of waste streams and the difficulty of extracting high-value ingredients, down-cycling may be as good as it gets. At times recycling can re-introduce hazardous components. Some products, like copper and aluminum, include a high level of recycled content as a matter of course—which we applaud, but don’t consider justification for listing in GreenSpec. As more complete life-cycle information on recycled materials and processes becomes available, we use that to increase our scrutiny of recycled products.

  • These products are environmentally attractive because they need to be replaced less frequently or their maintenance has very low impact, both of which can reduce costs as well as environmental impact.
    Robust answers on typical service life of products can be hard to come by, however. In GreenSpec we reserve this criterion for products where the material is clearly more durable than alternatives, such as an exceptionally traffic-resistant polyurethane floor finish. We refer to standardized tests for durability when they are available and appropriate.
    We also consider “appropriate durability”: long life is more important in a building envelope than in interior finish materials that will be replaced for aesthetic reasons. Here, reduced maintenance can be particularly important. An example is resilient flooring that doesn’t require regular waxing: an unnecessary use of resources and a health hazard.

Brent Ehrlich
Products Editor

PlasTEAK is made with 100% post-consumer recycled HDPE in a paraffin base—the boards become more slip-resistant when wet. Boatboard extruded HDPE panels meet the requirements of marine and outdoor environments. Limarpa is a lightweight alternative to plywood, also appropriate for marine use. PlasTEAK also makes UV-stabilized, 1' x 4' x 1.25"-thick, recycled-plastic grates for such applications as boardwalks, dune walkovers, nature walks, and floating docks; these grates provide 40% light and visual penetration for such uses as boardwalks, dune walkovers, and nature walks. Trim and lumber goods are available as well.

Recycled plastic paneling is an appropriate use for some of the various post-consumer plastic materials entering the waste stream in particular, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from milk and detergent bottles. Plastic materials are resistant to water and microbial growth, making them appropriate for wet locations such as bathrooms and industrial or agricultural facilities. Some plastic panels are more aesthetic and may be appropriate in designed interiors.

GreenSpec lists plastic paneling products with high recycled content—in some cases 100% post-consumer recycled plasic, and a prorated recycled content value (equal to % post-consumer plus one-half % pre-consumer) of at least 45%.

Treated-wood pilings may introduce hazardous chemicals to marine ecosystems, and their periodic replacement is expensive.

Recycled-content plastic pilings are impervious to marine borers and are an appropriate solution for building durable docks and piers. These pilings are usually extruded around steel or fiberglass reinforcing rods and treated with UV inhibitors and antioxidants. While more expensive than wooden pilings, if maintenance and durability are considered, recycled-plastic pilings often have lower life-cycle costs.

Docks and other construction in marine environments should avoid all pressure-treated wood in favor of components that are inherently resistant to water and microbial growth.

GreenSpec lists products here with significant recycled plastic, rubber, and fiberglass content.

LEED Credits

MRc4: Recycled Content

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