Recycled plastic boardwalks underpin sure-footed education project
A SURE-FOOTED solution to accessing environmental education in Yorkshire has been made possible with boardwalks ‘more sustainable
than wood’ – made entirely from recycled plastic carrier bags and bottles.
A 30m-long walkway, 6m bridge and pond dipping platform built from Centriforce recycled plastic posts and planks are supporting safe and slip-free fieldwork by students visiting the pioneering Carlshead Farm near Wetherby.
The award-winning 273-hectare farm in the lower Wharfedale Valley is a leading national example of innovation and diversification in farming with a range of complementary educational and environmental projects, including a biomass plantation and a training centre for excluded teenagers.
Consultant ‘Environments for People’ designed and built the boardwalks to facilitate educational visits by local primary and special needs schools, providing raised access across boggy ground and a low-lying platform for pupils to get up close and safely explore pond wildlife.
Using recycled plastic profiles instead of wood provided a more durable and maintenance-free solution that was also more practical to design and build, explains Hugh Roberts from Environments for People: “Unlike the wooden alternative, Centriforce planks have a slip-resistant and splinter-free surface, and don’t need to be fixed with chicken wire or nails. So the children have a safe platform to walk, or even to lie on to investigate wildlife habitats.”
Centriforce recycled plastic posts and bearers are built to form the base structure of the walkways. The plank-like decking is laid on top and finished with an edging strip. Manufactured from 100% HDPE post-consumer waste, the recycled plastic profiles can be drilled and sawn like timber and designed into any shape.
“During construction, the recycled plastic is very forgiving,” continues Hugh. The Centriforce profiles do not deform, chip or split. A treated wooden post can easily split when driven into the ground causing rot and leaching chemicals into the soil; a recycled plastic post is completely inert.
“Centriforce profiles offer a truly sustainable solution. There’s no maintenance and no ongoing cost involved in looking after the boardwalk. Even on wet and marshy ground, the boardwalk is rot and algae-free, but still looks and feels like wood and blends nicely with the environment.”
The boardwalk access at Carlshead Farm was provided with 80% government grant aid via Natural England’s Higher-Level Stewardship scheme. The farm is currently expanding its facilities to provide a Green Barn educational centre with residential facilities. Said farmer Gareth Gaunt: “The boardwalk has been problem-free since it was installed. The recycled plastic solution was a great idea, mostly because it is such a practical and durable material with a long lifespan and no maintenance. It also fits well with our environmental credentials and carbon-neutral targets.”
Source : centriforce.com