There’s been a lot in the news recently about how bad plastics are for the environment. About turtles and seabirds becoming tangled up in discarded bags. And who can forget that heart-wrenching image of the sperm whale chewing a bucket or the albatross that was killed by a toothpick. But are plastics really the problem? Or is it just the way in which we use, and discard, them that raises issues? One company, Eco-Deck recycled plastic, is looking to address the problem by turning unwanted waste into sturdy and useful products that not only help to reduce the mountains of plastic heading to landfill but also help to improve our local environment.
Who would have thought that the common driveway could be an environmental issue? And yet it can be. Driveways that are too solid cause rainwater to run off too quickly, overwhelming drains and causing localized flooding. If your driveway slopes towards your house it can even flood your home!
A traditional form of permeable driveway is the gravel drive. Rainwater can easily soak through the substrate and into the ground, but they require regular maintenance to avoid potholing and damage to the underlying substrate and regular top-ups of new gravel to keep the gravel layer thick and even. This in itself has environmental implications as the gravel is often extracted from quarries and rivers.
So enter the recycled plastic driveway grid. Using waste plastics Eco-deck create incredibly tough plastic grids with a cellular structure that can be packed with gravel. This provides the environmental benefits of a free-draining surface whilst ensuring that the gravel stays where it should be – on your driveway!
The other huge benefit of fitting driveway grids to a gravel driveway is that it makes it possible for those with limited mobility to walk on the surface. Traditional gravel drives shift making walking with a stick or using a buggy or wheelchair on the surface almost impossible. As the gravel is constrained by the sides of each cell in the grid the surface becomes much smoother and firmer to traverse.
A modern gravel driveway constructed with the use of recycled grids can also meet the requirements to be a SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage System). These systems allow water to drain naturally, reducing runoff and filtering out pollutants before the water is discharged into nearby streams or rivers.
It’s not just gravel driveways that benefit from added stability. The same principle of laying down grids then filling with gravel can be applied to other, similar materials. One common way in which the grids can be used is to create a grassed area, for example for parking or equestrian use, but without the risk that it will turn into a quagmire the first time it rains. Instead of filling the cells with gravel a mixture of grass seed and soil is used and within a few months (weather permitting!) the area will be green and lush and will remain green and lush year round!
Reducing the UK Plastic Mountain
Plastics used in this way avoid contributing to the mountains of plastic waste that is currently building up in the wake of China’s decision to restrict imports of waste. Eco-deck are proud to be a UK manufacturer of driveway grids and not only source all their raw materials – waste plastics – from the UK but they also form their grids, shed bases and other products in manufacturing plants around the Midlands.
Plastic in the ocean is undoubtedly a bad thing, but perhaps recycling plastic into useful products could redeem its image.