Builders' Merchants News
Fence panel shortage: environmental innovation fills the gap
Published:  10 April, 2014

The damage caused to gardens and parks during the recent flooding and gales has meant manufacturers of traditional wood fencing are struggling to meet demand. Plastecowood's fence panels, made from waste plastic, may be the perfect solution to this spring’s shortage.

Plastecowood’s ecological 'Smartawood' technology uses plastic from UK kerbside collections, which is moulded into fence panels resembling traditional products, but which require no maintenance and which last indefinitely, according to the company.

Another key benefit of Smartawood is that it is moisture-resistant, meaning it does not rot even when the posts are underground and in contact with constantly wet soil. For example, the RSPB has recently installed a Smartawood walkway over a lake. The plastic lumber is also bacteria-resistant and bug-free, so is not subject to woodworm or other infestation.

John Northcott, managing director of Plastecowood, said: “As households, businesses and local authorities start to rebuild after our tough winter, we are offering the very best long-term solution for fencing. Our panels have impeccable environmental credentials because they are made from waste plastic that would otherwise be buried in landfill. Perhaps more importantly, they are simple to install and because plastic does not deteriorate like wood, they last for a very long time.”

Smartawood Endurance Plastic products have recently become available thanks to over six years of research and development at Plastecowood’s plant in Bodelwyddan, North Wales. Currently employing around 30 people, the company is focused on turning the growing problem of mixed plastic waste – including food trays, yoghurt pots, margarine tubs, carrier bags, plant pots, crisp packets and camera film – into sustainable products for this generation and the next.

Mr Northcott continued: “Recent changes in legislation have focused on reducing the harmful effects of wood treatment from chromium, copper and arsenic, as well as creosote. These changes mean traditional timber is now much more prone to deterioration because the more benign treatments tend to be less effective.

“We are very competitive on price with high-grade timber products, especially when you take into account their whole-life costs and the quality of our product. Plastic fence panels really are the way ahead.”

Plastecowood is keen to talk to local authorities, offering 'closed loop' solutions whereby the company takes some of their plastic waste, re-uses it and sells it back to them as useful products. As well as Smartawood fencing, this can include planters, noise attenuation products, playground materials, and bollards.