Wooden decks and other surfaces can add an element of natural beauty to any home or office. From patios to planters, wood planks have long been considered a sustainable building material and, until about 25 or 30 years ago, was the material of choice for deck construction and other outdoor applications. Beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s, recycled plastic lumber (RPL) began to take a foothold in the industry and has been growing in popularity ever since. KW Plastics manufactures many of the plastic resins from which RPL is made from, and today we will take a closer look at which plastic resins may be used in the manufacturing process.

Pure Recycled Plastic Lumber

We use the word “pure” here to indicate that this type of RPL is made only from recycled plastic resins and not mixed with other foreign materials. There are a couple of different types of plastics that go into this kind of RPL, primarily:

  • High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). This durable lumber material is made from up to 95 percent HDPE and lends itself well to many outdoor applications such as garden boxes, retaining walls, and decking. It comes in many different shades. Although it is durable, it is not quite as stiff or sturdy as its true wooden counterpart.
  • Mixed / Blended Plastic. As the name implies, RPL made from this type of plastic consists of a variety of thermoplastics, including Polyethylene (PE). In fact, lumber materials manufactured from this type of recycled plastic may contain up to 80 or 90 percent PE. It has many of the same qualities of RPL made from HDPE, and is available in natural earth tone colors.

KW Plastics transforms plastic scrap into quality HDPE and PE plastic resins that can be used by the world’s largest RPL manufacturers. If you’d like to learn more about these materials and how they may benefit your manufacturing process, contact our sales team today!

Recycled Plastic Composites

In this category of RPL, plastic resins are combined with other materials to create composite products. The materials frequently blended with the recycled plastic resins are:

  • Fiberglass. These fibers may consist of small pieces or long strings, or a combination of the two depending on the intended use of the finished product. This composite results in a fairly rigid RPL. Because of its rigidity, it is often considered for use in bracing structures. While it is durable and tough enough for decking applications, the glass fibers can be a skin irritant.
  • Natural Fibers. Other natural fibers, such as sawdust, can be mixed with PE resins to create quality RPL products. When these fibers are combined with resins, they are usually done so in a 50/50 mix. While RPL manufactured from this composite provides superior grip and is easily painted, it also has the propensity to absorb more water and be less impact-resistant when compared to true, non-composite varieties.
  • Other Compounds. In addition to glass and wood fibers, there are many other materials that can be combined with plastic resins to create sturdy RPL. Some of these include mortar mixes, steel, rubber, and even peanut shells!

Given their supreme versatility and varying types, plastic resins perfectly compliment many naturally-occurring materials to create long lasting, rot-resistant RPL commodities. In our next article, we’ll take a look at the many advantages of RPL that will benefit your customers, so be sure to check back soon.

With the high caliber of plastic resins we manufacture, KW Plastics would love to be your partner in the manufacturing process of your next RPL product. From HDPE to LDPE, we’ve got your resin needs covered. Contact our sales team to speak with our knowledgeable, friendly staff to begin your partnership with the world’s largest plastics manufacturer today!


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