Maintenance engineers at Chester Zoo are constantly called on to create everything from animal enclosures to signage but, in the often wet and humid environments of the zoo, traditional materials such as plywood can be very short-lived.
However, the maintenance team at the zoo have found an alternative – and highly sustainable – material that can be worked just like wood but suffers none of the disadvantages. Their solution is Stokbord® - a sheet product made entirely from recycled plastic film and bottles.
“Stokbord is a much more sustainable solution for us than plywood and it’s incredibly versatile,” said Tony Ankers,
the zoo’s Maintenance Foreman. “It is ideal for a wide variety of uses around the zoo, from bird boxes to frog houses and rodent enclosures.”
The team has also started using 18mm thick Stokbord sheet for signage around the zoo. The sheet forms a robust, damage resistant backing board to
which the vinyl-laminated aluminium graphic signs are bolted. Often the signs are cut to an unusual shape to match a particular theme – for example as the outline for leaves for the ant house.
The joinery workshop at Chester Zoo has come to recognise the advantages of Stokbord as a long-lasting, hard-wearing material. It has all the characteristics of timber and can be routed to almost any shape, sawn, drilled and screwed into.
“When plywood is routed, the end grain is exposed, making it even more susceptible to rotting,” explained Tony Ankers. “This can be a problem because many of the zoo’s environments are wet and steamy and animal enclosures need to be washed down regularly. Our outdoor signs also have to be able to withstand weather extremes.
“Plywood structures may need to be replaced in as little as six months and they have to be inspected and maintained regularly,” he added. “By contrast we know that anything made with Stokbord will last for years without degrading.”
One other major advantage that Stokbord offers to Chester Zoo is the fact that it is a sustainable material. “It is made from recycled plastic and by using it we are preventing a significant amount of waste from going to landfill. This is an important part of zoo’s commitment to sustainable practices,” said Tony Ankers.
Case Study Info
Client: Chester Zoo
Contractor: Maintenance Section (Civil & Building)
Product: Stokbord® recycled plastic profiles
Project: Signage & animal enclosures