Concrete vs. Plastic Decking: Which is More Sustainable?

Concrete vs. Plastic Decking: Which is More Sustainable?

Are you debating between using concrete or plastic decking for your outdoor space? When it comes to sustainability, it’s essential to consider the environmental impact of your choice. In this article, we will compare the sustainability of concrete and plastic decking to help you make an informed decision for your project.

Environmental Impact of Concrete Decking

Carbon Footprint

Concrete production is a major contributor to carbon emissions, with the cement industry being one of the largest producers of greenhouse gases. The process of manufacturing cement involves the burning of fossil fuels and releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Additionally, transportation of concrete materials to the construction site also adds to its carbon footprint.

Resource Depletion

The production of concrete requires large amounts of natural resources, such as sand, gravel, and water. The extraction of these resources can have a negative impact on the environment, leading to habitat destruction, water pollution, and soil erosion. Furthermore, the demand for these materials can deplete natural reserves and contribute to environmental degradation.

Waste Generation

Concrete construction generates a significant amount of waste, both during the manufacturing process and at the end of the product’s life cycle. Excess concrete materials are often discarded as waste, leading to landfill accumulation and potential environmental contamination. Additionally, the demolition of concrete structures can produce large amounts of debris that may not be easily recyclable or biodegradable.

Environmental Impact of Plastic Decking

Carbon Footprint

Plastic decking has a higher carbon footprint compared to concrete decking. This is mainly due to the manufacturing process of plastic decking, which involves the extraction and processing of fossil fuels to create the plastic material. The transportation of plastic decking materials also contributes to its carbon footprint, as they are often shipped from overseas locations.

Resource Depletion

Plastic decking contributes to resource depletion as it relies heavily on the use of fossil fuels, which are non-renewable resources. The extraction and processing of these fossil fuels for plastic production can lead to environmental degradation and habitat destruction. Additionally, the production of plastic decking materials requires a significant amount of energy, further contributing to resource depletion.


One of the major drawbacks of plastic decking is its limited recyclability. While some plastic decking materials can be recycled, the process is often complicated and not widely available. This leads to a large amount of plastic decking ending up in landfills, where it can take hundreds of years to decompose. This further contributes to environmental pollution and degradation.

Longevity and Durability

Concrete Decking

Concrete decking is known for its exceptional longevity and durability. When properly installed and maintained, a concrete deck can last for decades without needing replacement. Concrete is resistant to rot, decay, and insect damage, making it a reliable choice for outdoor decking.

Plastic Decking

On the other hand, plastic decking also offers good longevity and durability. Most plastic decking materials are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, UV exposure, and heavy foot traffic. However, compared to concrete, plastic decking may have a shorter lifespan and may require more frequent maintenance to prevent warping, fading, or cracking.


In conclusion, both concrete and plastic decking have their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to sustainability. Concrete decking may have a longer lifespan and be more durable, but it comes with a higher carbon footprint and requires more energy to produce. On the other hand, plastic decking may be more eco-friendly in terms of production, but it is not as long-lasting and can contribute to plastic pollution. Ultimately, the choice between concrete and plastic decking will depend on individual preferences and priorities. It is important to carefully consider all factors and weigh the pros and cons before making a decision on which type of decking is the most sustainable option for your project.