Melbourne Landscaping companies are now turning to an unlikely material for some of their wood finishes. The material: recycled plastic composite. Why not use wood itself? Here are the five best reasons…

Reason One: Toughness and Durability of Recycled Plastic Composites

Plastic is tougher than wood, and of course, that’s not to say wood isn’t tough. Wood is an amazing and versatile material, but the facts don’t lie. Wood has a habit of splitting, snapping, splintering, grazing, and chipping, and through no fault of its own, it’s also a tasty snack for insects. Mould also loves wood and shows this love by growing all over it. Finally, wood is highly porous by nature, meaning it has to be covered in waterproofing oil to make it suitable for landscaping finishes. This lack of water resistance is the ultimate undoing for wood.

Here at Red’s Landscaping Melbourne, we’ve found that recycled plastic composites are pretty much the opposite. It’s nonporous, insects and mould aren’t interested in it, chemicals don’t bother it, and it requires a huge amount of force or professional tools to snap it.

Our recent commercial landscaping project at Balwyn Community Centre made great use of the Futurewood products Enviroslat and CleverDeck

Being man-made is a huge advantage for plastic, as it gives an opportunity for engineers to re-master the material, to make it stronger, more shock absorbent, better reinforced (often with fibreglass), and it also gives control over colour and design.

CleverDeck Composite Recycled Plastic decking from Futurewood - Reds Landscaping & Design
CleverDeck Composite Plastic decking from Futurewood looks just like timber on this deck.

Reason Two: UV Resistance of Recycled Plastic Composite Wood

In wet and humid countries, wood is known to quickly rot and break, so what happens in a country like Australia, where the biggest weather challenge for wood is the sun? UV radiation is an invisible threat to wood fibres, rendering them less resilient and more prone to cracking, warping, or cupping. An entire deck or fence section can be destroyed by failing to protect them with a waterproof sealer and UV light sealer.

Plastic composite wood doesn’t suffer from the same problem. In fact, recycled plastic wood is UV resistant, meaning the performance, quality, and appearance will decrease much more slowly over time than real wood.

Recycled plastic composite decking looks like real wood - Reds Landscaping & Design
Recycled plastic composite decking looks like real wood.


Reason Three: Waste reduction

The construction industry accounts for more than one-third of the world’s waste, if some experts are correct. This is a big problem, so the construction industry, engineering industry, and other connected sectors like landscaping are responsible for finding new ways to recycle these materials and ensure they avoid the landfill. The recycled plastic “wood” that we use takes post-industrial HDPE and makes a waste-reducing product that also saves rainforest timber from being felled.

This brown Enviroslat fence looks great in contrast to the green bamboo leaves - Reds Landscaping & Design
Recycled plastic wood composites on this brown enviroslat fence looks great in contrast to the green bamboo leaves.


Reason Four: Cost effectiveness

Here at Red’s Landscaping Melbourne , we are happy to provide a cost-benefit analysis for plastic wood in comparison to wood, showing that there is a high hidden cost in maintaining timber year after year. As a side to that fact, the oil used to protect timber slats contains a number of chemicals that can be harmful to the environment.

Over the entire life span, plastic lumber more than makes up for its higher purchasing price, providing a truly economical option to those who want quality and longevity.


Reason Five: Expert Science

The final of our five reasons (though we could give plenty more) brings us to the science behind plastic lumber’s composition. As you see in the list below, the ingredients are either eco-friendly natural materials, post-industrial waste, or small quantities of carefully selected chemicals to make sure the resulting material is perfect for landscaping (and other applications). The products are made from over 90% recycled and reused plastic and rice husk mixed with some pigments and fillers, as well as UV absorbers to ensure the material remains tough for a long time.

How recycled Plastic Timber Composites are made - Reds Landscaping & Design
How your recycled Plastic bottles become Timber Composites park furniture.

Landscaping with Enviroslat and CleverDeck recycled plastic Composite Timber slats

The recycled plastic composite timber slats have a wide range of uses in landscaping. It is the ideal material for pergolas, decking, or to improve the look of your backyard shed. The low maintenance, toughness, and aesthetic qualities make it a great material for the commercial landscaping of public places like the Balwyn Community Centre. The urban wetlands boardwalk is a fantastic example of how this new landscaping material can be used.


Enviroslat Cladding on a shed at Balwyn Community Centre - Reds Landscaping & Design
Recycled Enviroslat Cladding on a shed at Balwyn Community Centre.

The Boardwalk at Balwyn Community Centre


Park Furniture from recycled plastic composites

The toughness of recycled plastic composites also makes them great for the manufacturing of Park Outdoor Furniture for landscaping public spaces. For this reason, commercial landscapers are now seeing these materials specified more often by landscape architects.

Outdoor Park Furniture Marrickville - Reds Landscaping & Design
A round outdoor seat. Marrickville library outdoor furniture – Photograph courtesy of botton + gardiner

The materials used are engineered for longevity, meaning there is no need to replace and consume additional resources. Park furniture manufactured from recycled plastic composite wood is very low maintenance. The composites on these outdoor park furniture pieces require no sealing or oiling. There is also no risk of termite destruction when these materials are used. The long chain polyolefin molecules mean that the materials are also very resistant to warping.

S - Shaped outdoor seat. Marrickville Library - Reds Landscaping & Design
S – Shaped outdoor seat. Marrickville Library. Photograph courtesy of botton + gardiner


Manufacturing of Outdoor Park Furniture

The manufacturing process for making outdoor park furniture with recycled plastic composites is similar to making park furniture with wood. The process is, however, more efficient as there is no need to oil or paint the timber composites. An added bonus is that the slats are manufactured straight with uniform thickness and width. This is hard to achieve even with the best kiln dried timbers. This can be seen in the photographs below of the park furniture manufacturing at botton + gardiner.



Commercial Landscaping with recycled composite timber.

The toughness and durability of recycled composite timber make materials like Enviroslat ideal for commercial landscaping applications. The toughness and the use of HDPE in the material make the outdoor furniture resistant to vandals. The Ultraviolet Stability means that the colour does not fade much or peel, meaning that repainting is rarely required. The absence of wood splinters and warping are even more reasons why these materials are great for commercial landscaping.


Want to learn more about our recycled plastic timber projects?

Get in touch with us today or check out our landscaping case studies page.

CleverDeck and Enviroslat are Trademarks of Future Wood in Australia and the UK

For More information on recycling Plastic take a look at the UK Plastic Expert Website.

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