Some Benefits and Drawbacks of Recycled Plastic Walkways
The benefits of recycled plastic have been pushed a lot by the media and producers of the products themselves. There are certainly benefits but there are some drawbacks for project managers to consider before making a leap from plywood to a recycled substitute.
A major consideration with every project will always be cost now the benefit of using plywood is that it will be cheaper at the outside as the costs of laying plywood compared with plastic will be cheaper up front costs will be less at the start of the build. However recycled plastic boards are more likely to last much better and need replaced every 40 years compared to plywood which is estimated at approximately 15 years.
Because of this over the life of a project the costs of recycled plastic will be considered less. WRAP a UK government agency estimated the costs of 100m of walkway over lifespan to be £ 986 for timber and £ 425 for plastic. (Buying recycled in Estates Management 2004.)
There are disadvantages to using plastic in a walkway.
Solid Profiles are very heavy and can be hard to work easily and without risk of injury. There are still limited amounts of suppliers so you may not get the best possible price possible or have to wait a long time for production. A local source of plywood is much easier to find. Plastic can be worked on with normal tools however it will increase the wear of drill bits and saws.
However there are performance benefits.
Recycled sheeting is very forgiving and will adapt to the ground and allow for variations. It is very tough and will not chip, crack or snap even under extreme stress. Although it might melt under extreme heat it's almost impossible to ignite. It requires no weather treatment so is essentially maintenance free. It is resistant to water and does not remain damp after wiping so say goodbye to slippery surfaces. It will not leak chemicals or weaken over time Most recyclable plastic has UV stabilizer so should not change color either. In conclusion there's no definite right or wrong choice both wood and plastic have their merits. Wood is a shorter term solution with lower upfront costs where plastic looks at the longer term.