One of the major selling points of composite decking material is that it’s assumed by many people to be better for the environment than wood. However, there are some inconvenient facts that may cast some doubt on this widely-held opinion. In this last installment of a three-part series (see Part 1 & 2), we’ll look at reasons why composite decking materials can actually be harmful to the environment.
1. Composite Decking Materials Aren’t Biodegradable
Whether it’s made of wood or of composite materials, every boardwalk ever built will one day have to be replaced. When that time comes, what will become of the old boardwalk materials that have to be removed? Wood is biodegradable. Unfortunately, composite decking materials aren’t. That means that they’ll be stacked up in landfills for years to come. That certainly doesn’t seem very eco-friendly!
Another problem with the non-biodegradable nature of composite decking is the potential harm it poses to oceans and lakes. If there’s a bad storm or hurricane and large pieces of the boardwalk are swept out into the waves, those boards will remain out there for years causing further pollution to our natural environment. Wood decking planks, in contrast, are completely biodegradable.
2. Composite Decking Materials Can’t Be Renewed
Thanks to reforestation efforts, the trees harvested by lumber companies can grow back. In recent years, thanks to regulations, the number of trees replanted far exceeds the number that is cut down to be used as lumber. This process can take place over and over again. Composite decking materials are another matter altogether. They are made out of oil-based materials such as polyvinyl, polypropylene, and polyethylene which aren’t renewable.
3. Composite Decking Materials will Likely Need to be Replaced Sooner Than Wood
Since it’s been shown in previous articles to be less durable than wood, chances are that any boardwalk made from these materials will require replacement more quickly. Thus, this non-biodegradable, non-renewable building process will take place all over again. The old boardwalk materials will pile up in landfills where that composite material has the potential to sit for centuries. This unfortunate reality has caused many manufacturers to abandon the use of the term “green” when describing their products.
While the originators of composite decking may have had the best of intentions, their plan to create an environmentally-friendly material seems to have fallen short of their goal. That doesn’t stop misguided and ill-informed environmental groups from continuing to pressure local governments to use these materials in their city development plans.
If you run into this sort of opposition when your city decides to put in a new boardwalk, make sure to share this relevant information with environmentalist activists. They may not have ever seen these important arguments against the use of composite decking before.
As this three-part series of articles clearly demonstrates, composite decking material is actually less environmentally friendly, less durable, and less safe to build with than wood. These are just a few reasons why constructing a boardwalk out of wood rather than composite decking material is a smart choice.