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Wood can be recycled in construction. Wooden beams and supports from deconstructed buildings can be re-trimmed and used on new builds. Whilst the process is more labour intensive (old nails etc. will need to be removed as well as requiring the wood be checked for rigidity) than using new material it is the most favoured source of timber of ecological organisations such as Greenpeace.
The use of recycled timber rose in the 1990s when people became more aware of the effect deforestation was having on the climate. This has helped raise the profile of all recycled materials in construction, demonstrating they can be just as strong as virgin material and can meet the required building codes.
Recycled plastic has major uses in construction. The plastic from old sites and consumer products (drinks bottles etc.) can be put to use creating new materials such as plastic lumber (timber sustitute) or added to existing materials such as roof insulation.
Plastic lumber in its most basic form consists of plastic that has been recovered from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) sources such as milk jugs, drinks bottles and even the menace of the environment plastic carrier bags.
It can be used in many of the applications that wood is used in such as decking, fencing and furniture. Whilst plastic lumber has a higher initial price it offers much more durability then normal wood, takes plastic materials out of the landfill and saves trees from being cut down.
Recycled plastic is also suited to the building of many ancillary parts of a project. Window frames, street signs, garden furniture and many other items can be obtained which have been created using recycled plastic.
Kitchen and bathroom worktops and worksurfaces can be made from recycled plastic. Corian is an example. It has a fine stone-like appearance and can be made into any colour or mixture. It is very strong and suitable for all applications, including cladding walls.