The Future of No Maintenance Construction

There used to be a pleasant winding labyrinth of wooden walkways and bridges at Moses Gate Country Park near Bolton but the elements have taken their toll and it's now a sad, boarded up, rotting ruin.

The decking at the waterside is seriously warped and the chicken wire added later to help prevent slipping is a broken mesh of trip wire – an accident waiting to happen.

Obviously this was not the architect's original inspiration and is a tax payer investment gone to seed in just a few short years. The local council's current spending constraints mean that nothing can be done at present, which is very sad.

Bolton Brothers Recycle Plastic - Exponential Growth

Entrepreneurs, Kieran, Dermot and Lewis Walch, born in Farnworth nr. Bolton, took a stab in the dark in 2010 and decided to launch a recycled plastics business, despite having no previous experience either of starting a business or plastic reprocessing.

The idea was to make planks, beams and other profiles for the construction industry out of recycled polystyrene – CD cases and contact lens cases.

The resulting Plastic Wood (see VIDEO) won ‘Best Recycled Product’ at the MRW National Recycling Awards in 2015. In 2016 the company received a commendation for innovation at Pendle Council's annual Business Awards.

Starting with a £2.5k grant from Pendle Council in 2010 they rented a 1000 sq ft unit on Greenfield Road Colne and worked without wages for 12 months supported by family. IN no time at all they found their biggest challenge was keeping up with demand that was growing at 30% a year which has continued for the last 8 years. Kedel (named after the 3 brothers) no employs more than 20 people and is in a 25,ooo sq ft facility on Oswald Street, Burnley.

Popular Products

 Decking (VIDEO Decking Case Study), gatesfencing and cladding, are big sellers mainly because maintenance is never needed. These products do not rot, are UV protected, so never need painting and will keep their appearance for decades without any further expenditure.

Plastic we are told can take upwards of 450 years to breakdown and that's an estimate by scientists. Though this is a problem for the environment when placed in landfill or burned in incinerators, its great if recycled and used in building and construction. 

The decking products have better slip resistance than wood even in wet conditions and green algae that makes wooden decks like a skating rink has no means to bed in, unlike wood. If any appears over several years it will just mop off or you can jet spray.

‘Your Housing’ in South Manchester and ‘Whitefriars’ in the Midlands are housing associations that have successfully installed 1000s of meters of recycled plastic fencing to replace their wooden fences. Their maintenance and replacement budgets are used to fund the ongoing project. (VIDEO Fencing Case Study)

According to Paul Stanners, Housing Manager at ‘Your Housing’ in Partington, Manchester:

"Over the last 7 years, we've not had to replace one single panel, even after a car went through three panels.

The concrete posts broke, but we just replaced them, picked up the recycled plastic panels and put them back in."

The ‘Age of Plastic’ Challenges

Two US Universities, Georgia and California at Santa Barbara, collaborating with Sea Education Association (SEA), have examined plastic production from 1950 and 2015, and found 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic has been manufactured worldwide. It may surprise to hear that only 9 percent has been recycled, 12 percent incinerated and 79 percent dumped in landfill. The rest is scattered far and wide in the natural environment. One estimate suggested that by 2050 weight for weight there will be more plastic than fish ion the sea. Scary stuff!

Help us turn the tide. Use recycled plastic wherever it will save you money in the long run stop this disaster before it is too late.

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