Of the many claims made by composite decking manufacturers, this is among the most cited: their product is a more environmentally responsible option than wood.
This is due to the material’s production. One of the main ingredients is plastic and responsible companies source their plastic from used garbage or shopping bags. The other main ingredient, wood, is collected from sawdust, mill waste, and old pallets. In short, composite decking uses recycled materials.
That sounds great! Except it only addresses part of the eco-friendly problem.
There are essentially two main recycling systems: natural and man-made. Natural recycling is the process of decomposition, when organic matter is broken down and used to create new life. Man-made processes, on the other hand, are what we use to recycle plastic, metal, and other inorganic things that aren’t biodegradable.
A very important thing to note is that these two systems don’t mix well. Plastic won’t get recycled when put through a natural system, and wood won’ be recycled when put through a man-made system. So what happens when you mix wood and plastic together?
Composite decking cannot be recycled. Any sawdust created when cutting composite deck boards: straight to the dump. Scrap wood? More dump fodder. What about when the deck gets replaced? You get the picture. All that material becomes nothing but waste, destined to sit in a landfill forever.
But wait a second, when would you have to replace a composite deck? Isn’t this stuff supposed to last forever?