Eco-friendly, green, recycled, renewable, environmentally friendly, sustainable, bio-degradable and energy efficient are all key words used more and more often these days. This is a positive movement that has grown internationally and is well marketed. We all want to contribute to saving the planet and doing our part to keep our earth clean and free of chemicals and pollutants. There are now many organizations that are set up to help us do just that.
First what is eco-friendly mean? If we don't Google it, I would say it means friendly to our environment, no chemicals no harmful out-gassing and uses only raw materials. The Wikipedia definition states it is product that inflicts little or no harm to the environment. This is a very grey area. Now lets apply this to decking. There are several products available; pressure treated, composite and hardwood decks.
Composite decking is the least environmentally friendly product. Let me state that this product is marketed as green but let's examine a few things first. The decking is man made from plastic or composite that has been recycled. Testing performed on the recycled plastic (High Density Polyethylene ) has confirmed that the recycling process loses some of its original tensile strength and the recycled product does not readily biodegrade in the landfills. The fact that this plastic is made of petroleum also escapes the corporations that tote its environmental benefits. Petroleum is costly and sometimes environmentally damaging.
Now going back to the loss of tensile strength, how does that affect the life of the deck once installed in an external environment? What happens when plastic is exposed to heat over a long period of time? If you are replacing your deck in less than 10 years time is it really environmentally friendly or if you have to apply chemicals to it to prevent mold and fungus? Do a little homework and you will realize wood is the only eco-friendly decking resource.
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