Composite decking has come a long way in recent decades—and one company is going further by recycling 300 million pounds of scrap and waste.

While wooden decks are beautiful, concerns over upkeep and long-term decay may have you considering composite decking products instead. But what if you could have the look of real wood while helping to divert plastics and other wastes away from landfills? An ingenious process from composite decking manufacturer TimberTech is doing just that: engineering products that convincingly resemble natural wood while at the same time recycling several hundred million pounds of sawdust and plastics each year.

A reimagined backyard in San Jose, California, makes the most of TimberTech’s composite decking products to unite a bluestone patio and detached in-law suite with the main house.

A reimagined backyard in San Jose, California, makes the most of TimberTech’s composite decking products to unite a bluestone patio and detached in-law suite with the main house.

Photo courtesy of Water & Earth Landscape Design

An inlaid row of composite boards runs along the center of the patio and draws the eye toward an outdoor fireplace, while different colored boards create a variegated look all around.

An inlaid row of composite boards runs along the center of the patio and draws the eye toward an outdoor fireplace, while different colored boards create a variegated look all around.

Photo courtesy of Water & Earth Landscape Design

“Maintenance and durability are two key considerations when deciding between composite and wood decking,” says Patrick Barnds, SVP of Product Management at TimberTech. “However, another consideration is the sustainability aspect of composite products.”

While the term “composite decking” is often used broadly in communication, it actually describes two slightly different methods of manufacturing deck boards: either by combining plastic resin and natural wood waste (such as sawdust), or by using a fully synthetic polymer solution. In either case, the resulting mixture is combined under heat and pressure to form the core of the board, which is then enveloped in a protective shell that also provides the color and finish. TimberTech, which makes both types of products, takes the process one step further by actively sourcing recycled materials and reintroducing scraps from its own manufacturing process.

“To achieve a more consistent and dependable supply of inputs, we invested in our own recycling capabilities,” Barnds adds. “We built a state-of-the-art plastics recycling facility that supplies materials for our capped wood-plastic products, and we also bought a company that specializes in harder-to-recycle plastics like PVC for our capped polymer products. Together, these programs allow us to increase the recycled content of our products as much as possible. In fact, we’re on track to use almost 300 million pounds of scrap and waste materials this year.” 

At one end of the patio, the custom fireplace is also clad in TimberTech’s composite boards.

At one end of the patio, the custom fireplace is also clad in TimberTech’s composite boards.

Photo courtesy of Water & Earth Landscape Design

See the full story on Dwell.com: From Trash to Treasure, You Can Build a Deck That’s Easy on Both the Eyes and the Environment
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