Plastic is a popular topic nowadays. Social media feeds are splashed with articles about plastic. Globally, humans use about 300 million tons of plastic each year. Plastic is everywhere and, as the saying goes, “with popularity, comes a price”. The price is that plastic has gotten a quite the reputation.

Our experiences shape and alter our perceptions of food, places, people and building materials; particularly, plastic building materials. Plastic is malleable and comes in numerous types, shapes and textures. Some products are flimsy and lightweight, and some plastic products are dense and durable.

Many people have a low perception of plastic, and we have discovered one of the culprits: the brightly colored stackable plastic lawn chairs. These plastic lawn chairs are typically made out of polypropylene, a thermoplastic polymer made from propylene. This plastic is generally less stiff than other types of plastic, and degrades from UV radiation and heat exposure much faster than other plastics. The problem is that these chairs are meant to be lightweight and less expensive than other lawn furniture, but it has been generalized to all types of plastic building materials and applications. And, while a bit unfair, it is understandable how these perceptions form.

So, how do we change the perception that plastic isn’t suitable for structural applications? By creating a structural plastic lumber building material. With so many types of plastic building materials, the key is to know what performance attributes to pay attention to on your building material scavenger hunt.

Structural Characteristics

Recycled plastic lumber contains many performance characteristics, the three below directly relate to its structural integrity.

HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) Plastic Lumber – Bedford Technology uses HDPE, it is both recycled and recyclable. HDPE is produced and can be a virgin material, or can be recycled from post-consumer and post-industrial plastic like milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles. To manufacture structural recycled plastic lumber, the HDPE plastic is ground up, heated and forced through an extruder. An added benefit of using HDPE is that no matter how many times it is manufactured (and re-manufactured), the molecular properties of the HDPE, like structural integrity don’t degrade like other plastics.

High-Quality Material – Some plastic lumber contains fillers (like saw dust or rice fiber), which are particles added to the material to lower the cost and consumption. These fillers can lower the structural integrity of the product. At Bedford Technology, over 90% of the material is HDPE. The only fillers used are fiberglass strand or rebar. As opposed to these other commonly used fillers, fiberglass strand and rebar actually increase the structural integrity of the product.

Weight/Load Bearing Requirements – Another characteristic is the weight or load-bearing capacity. Plastic lumber by Bedford Technology can stand up under heavy loads and  will not rot or splinter. Bedford Technology offers five product lines to ensure that our structural plastic lumber solution will meet even your toughest challenge.

NOTE: It is recommended to compare project requirements with the building material requirements before choosing a product.

Compare it to Traditional Wood

History oftentimes repeats itself, especially when it comes to building materials. Since traditional wood is such a common product, it is often the go-to building material, even though it may not be the best solution. To help you better understand how wood compares to plastic lumber, below is a comparison chart of plastic lumber, composite material and traditional wood.

Wood vs. Plastic Lumber Comparison Chart

Ready to Discuss Your Project Needs?

At Bedford Technology, we are here to help and answer any and all of your questions. Structural recycled plastic lumber products by Bedford Technology are durable and sustainable, will hold up your foundation and in extreme weather conditions.

We’re here to help! Contact us today!