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Plastic Lumber - ASTM Test Methods

Origination Date: April 28, 1998
Revision Date:  

Recycled plastic lumber is marketed in a variety of ways, ranging from landscaping uses to finished products like picnic tables. It is currently difficult to write competitive specifications due to the variety of plastic used and due to the lack of performance standards. The plastic lumber industry has just completed a crucial first step by creating five Standard ASTM Test Methods:

D6108-97
Compressive Properties of Plastic Lumber and Shapes

D6109-97
Flexural Properties of Unreinforced and Reinforced Plastic Lumber

D6111-97
Bulk Density and Specific Gravity of Plastic Lumber and Shapes by Displacement

D6112-97
Compressive and Flexural Creep and Creep-Rupture of Plastic Lumber and Shapes

D6117-97
Mechanical Fasteners in Plastic Lumber and Shapes

The test methods are essential, but not enough for purchasing specifications until it is known what values (achieved through the test methods) assure adequate performance for various uses of plastic lumber. Related specification questions include:

  • Have most plastic lumber producers been involved or represented in the ASTM process?
  • Do the test methods require highly specialized testing equipment or training?
  • Is it clear which independent laboratories will be able to perform the ASTM tests?
  • Any estimate of the costs associated with performing these tests?

Effective competitive bid specifications for plastic lumber will be written when the performance standards have been identified.

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