Housing Associations cashing in with Recycled Plastic Fencing

National housing associations and local authorities have begun to discover the merits of replacing the wooden fencing on their housing estates with Recycled Plastic Fencing. Typical fencing refurbishment and replacement budgets are in the region of £100,000 per annum.

In our current economic climate anything that will significantly reduce these recurring maintenance costs is cause for celebration. The recycled plastic solution eliminates these on going costs.

‘Your Housing Group’ with social housing stock throughout the UK began to incorporate recycled plastic fencing into their regular maintenance programme in 2012, starting with their Partington, South Manchester, housing estate.  These installations have not required any attention since, not even due to vandalism. It is simply not possible to kick through this type of fencing. Graffiti comes off with regular household cleaners or a little WD40, and it will never rot or need painting.

Dermot Walch, Managing Director of Kedel Limited in Colne, Lancashire, who supplied the fencing profiles says: “We went down to see the new installation in Partington and take a few pictures. On one fence we noticed something stuck to the front of a fence pale. Someone had tried to set light to it with a cigarette lighter, but the lighter got too hot to hold and was left welded to the fence. At that point the vandals gave up, as it obviously didn’t fall into the ‘quick thrill’ category.”

According to independent tests, Recycled Plastic is difficult to ignite. A small flame may be started, but it will go out as soon as the flame source is removed. Wood on the other hand is easily set alight and once a flame is started will usually continue to burn unless extinguished manually.

Recycled plastic has been around for a while, but is now beginning to seriously penetrate the housing market. There are two main reasons – cost and appearance.

The whole-life cost saving is very significant when compared to wood. WRAP an independent institution funded by all 4 UK governments has produced several studies comparing the whole life cost of recycled plastic installations with wood.

One study chose the example of a country park walkway and assumed that after 2 years a wooden installation would need maintenance and after 7 years require replacing. This is accurately reflects the experience of national housing associations and local governments.

Recycled plastic profiles continue to look as good as new decades after they have been installed. Recycled plastic does not rot, is impervious to mould, does not crack, warp or splinter, and the colour, which is throughout the plastic, is UV protected against fading and will never peel off. Graffiti wipes off with a cloth and household detergent or WD40.

Maintaining the appearance of housing stock upgrades its value, as well as giving a sense of pride to local residents. ‘Your Housing Group’ achieved added social value by bringing in ‘Big Life’. Big Life specialise in bringing jobs to long term unemployed. In Partington, Manchester, they provided much needed work and self-respect to local unemployed who gained new skills from training to fabricate and install recycled plastic fencing in their own locality.

Fencing is just one application that makes sense, but there are so many others that come to mind and are finding wide application in the building and construction market: decking, drainage and ground reinforcement grids, gates and bin cupboards, lawn edging, bollards and street furniture, and for landscapers, L-Stones for terracing, sleepers, palisades both hollow and solid including ogee palisades that lock into each other, fishing pegs and jetties.

Recycled plastic keeps waste plastic out of landfill and incinerators, and at the end of its life, in the distant future, can be recycled again. This kind of closed loop is the ideal sustainable approach.

The importance of recycled plastic will keep increasing, not only because it is the most cost effective alternative to wood and other traditional building materials with its obvious practical maintenance-free advantages, but also because it reduces the production of the green house gas associated with the high energy consumption needed to produce concrete, steel and virgin plastic. It also helps reduce the use of wood, preserving forests, the lungs of the planet, which remove a major green house gas, carbon dioxide, from the atmosphere.

The recent flooding experienced due to unusually heavy rainfall in the UK will certainly keep governments focussed on reducing our carbon footprint, and recycling more plastic will play an increasingly important part in their solution strategies.

A comprehensive collection of recycled plastic profiles for building and construction, along with street furniture, educational outdoor classroom furniture and landscaping products can be found at www.kedeltrade.co.uk, www.kedel.co.uk and www.kedeleducation.co.uk