Chester Zoo Goes Wild with Stokbord® Recycled Plastic

June 12, 2014 at 9:00 AM

LIFE in the maintenance team at Chester Zoo is never dull. There’s no knowing what the next keeper will ask the team to build to help create an animal’s natural habitat.  Maintenance engineers need to be skilled and imaginative in crafting a wide variety of materials into enclosures and signage.

But with enclosures often in warm, wet or humid environments, traditional materials such as plywood can prove short-lived and hard to handle.  The solution comes from a surprising – yet highly sustainable – source:  Stokbord® - a board made entirely from recycled plastic films and bottles.

“Stokbord is a much more sustainable solution for us than plywood.  It’s an incredibly versatile material, so it is ideal for the wide variety of uses around the zoo from bird boxes to frog houses, from rodent enclosures to creating signs of all shapes and sizes,” explains the zoo’s Maintenance Foreman Tony Ankers.

Now Chester Zoo has begun to use 18mm thick Stokbord from Centriforce Products as a backing board for some of its signs.  The Maintenance Section (Civil and Building) has come to recognise its advantages in the joinery workshop as a long-lasting, hard-wearing material that is resistant to wet environments indoors and out.

The Stokbord recycled plastic sheet forms a robust, damage-resistant backing board to which the vinyl-laminated aluminium graphic signs are bolted.    Often the signs have to be cut to an unusual shape to match the theme, for example the outline of leaves for the ant house.

Stokbord has all the characteristics of timber.  It can be routed to almost any shape, sawed, drilled and screwed into.  At the same time it offers an opportunity to use an environmentally-sustainable alternative to timber.

“When plywood is routed, it exposes the end grain making it even more susceptible to rotting,” Tony Ankers continues.  “ This can be a problem as many of our environments are wet, humid or steamy and animal structures need to be washed down regularly.  Outdoors signs also need to withstand weather extremes.  

“Plywood may require replacing in as little as 6 months and needs to be regularly inspected and maintained.  By contrast we know that Stokbord will last for years without degrading.

“Also, because Stokbord is made entirely from recycled plastic, we are preventing a significant amount of waste from going to landfill.  This is an important part of the Zoo’s commitment to sustainable practices.”

Stokbord is manufactured at Centriforce’s Liverpool manufacturing headquarters entirely from recycled HDPE and LDPE plastic, which would be otherwise destined for landfill or export.  Its versatility and durability have made Stokbord an established alternative to plywood in a wide range of industries.

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