The Financial Burden of Maintenance

Tuesday, 9 January 2018  |  Lewis

If you were to calculate the cost of labour and materials for maintenance of fencing and other wooden structures on the rail network each year, you would not be surprised to come up with a figure in the hundreds of thousands of pounds or even millions.

UK Waste to China Blocked

According to an article commissioned by the BBC, the UK collected around 470,000 tonnes of waste plastic in 2016. 400,000 tonnes of that went to China and Hong Kong for recycling.


Given the widely reported news that China has now blocked imports of recycled plastic waste, we have a 400,000-tonne glut of plastic waste from domestic and industrial sources which will have to be burned or added to landfill. This is neither desirable or necessary.

Cost of Recycled Plastic for Construction

Recycled Plastic Construction products have been around for several years and are the more intelligent environmental and financial investment when compared to wood.

According to a study by WRAP*, a wooden walkway needs maintenance after year 1 and complete replacement after 7 years. The WRAP cost comparison study covering a 25 year period, showed that apart from the one-off cost of installation, the recycled plastic alternative is by far the least expensive option long term, needing neither maintenance nor replacement throughout that time.

Recycled plastic will never rot and never need paint or preservative treatments. Scientists say that plastic takes around 450 years to breakdown and that’s just an estimate.

Instead of traditional wooden fencing, concrete L-stones or wooden sleepers for revetments or banking support, facilities managers now have access to heavy duty recycled plastic versions, as well as tongue and groove and cladding, with a high level of UV protection from colour fade.


Kedel Limited in Burnley have just expanded their manufacturing capacity, turning plastic waste into a recycled plastic alternative to wood. According to MD, Dermot Walch, demand for Kedel's recycled plastic products for the construction industry has risen 30% a year for the last 8 years they have been trading.

Supplied by Kedel, Housing associations such as ‘Your Housing’ in Manchester and ‘Whitefriars’ in the Midlands are using their maintenance and replacement budgets to gradually replace all their estate fencing with recycled plastic.

“Over the last 7 years, we've not had to replace one single panel, even after a car went through three panels. The concrete posts broke but we just replaced those, picked up the recycled plastic panels and put them back in.” Paul Stanners, Partington Housing Manager, Your Housing Group, Manchester.

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* The Waste and Resources Action Programme (which operates as WRAP) is a registered UK Charity No. 1159512 and registered as a Company limited by guarantee in England & Wales No. 4125764.