Using fire-resistant plastic materials is better than using wood for several reasons, such as fire-resistant plastic material mitigating the risk of fire spreading by extinguishing itself. Concerning weight, fire-resistant plastic may have a lesser ecological footprint during transportation and delivery as it tends to be a far lighter material compared to timber or solid wood when used in products. However, fire-resistant plastic is not biodegradable, and its use in products takes a long time to break down, ending up as mismanaged waste, polluting land, rivers, and oceans. Detailed information is below.
- According to Dienamics, using fire-resistant plastic in products mitigates the risk of a fire spreading beyond the inside of the product. This is often required in order to meet product safety standards.
- Using wood material in products is limited by the structural flammability and susceptibility of the material to rapid collapse on being lit and burn.
- Dienamics adds that when fire-resistant plastic material is set alight, it is strong enough to self-extinguish itself if the heat source is removed. It prevents internal fires from spreading outside the material. On the other hand, according to TimberTown, when different types of wood, such as cedar, ipe, and deck wood, are lit and put through an open and consistent fire, they will burn if given heat and time.
- The use of fire-resistant plastic leads to durability as in case of a fire, it prevents the burning plastic from dripping or melting, igniting other surrounding materials.
- Concerning weight, Better Meets Reality states that during transportation and delivery, fire-resistant plastic may have a lesser ecological footprint as it tends to be a far lighter material compared to timber or solid wood.
- Regarding durability, fire-resistant plastic may last longer than some timber or softwood. However, hardwood can last longer, sometimes up to 100 years.
- Wood is an organic material that can be easily recycled and re-used compared to most plastics, including the fire-resistant plastic. This is according to Better Meets Reality.
- Wood is also biodegradable and causes less pollution when it becomes waste. Plastic is not biodegradable and takes a long time to break down, ending up as mismanaged waste. Plastic pollution on land, rivers, and the ocean currently poses bigger challenges than pollution from timber or wood.
- Wood is sourced from a natural and renewable resource, which can be sustainably harvested. Plastic is a synthetic material sourced from non-renewable fossil fuel feed stock like natural gas and crude oil.
- However, although wood looks like the more sustainable material overall, “finished wood products with other materials added like metal and plastic trimming, glues, and varnishes have a significantly higher eco-footprint.”
- Since wood is usually heavier than plastic, transporting and delivering it might be more expensive than fire-resistant plastic as it uses more fuel and has a higher carbon footprint. More space is also needed to store wood.
- Wood can be made “more fire-proof by chemical treatments, but this process is prohibitively expensive.“
- Fire-resistant plastic is made by adding other compounds to raw plastics to meet safety standards, adding to the material cost.