Energy & Sustainability Furniture & Lighting
Plastic plywood substitute

I make a bunch of stuff out of plywood. A lot of it is utilitarian furniture–bookshelves, workbenches, occasional chairs and stools. I’ve been wishing for a long time that I could find a plastic substitute material, like the synthetic decking and lumber I see for sale in the hardware stores these days, to use instead, not only for the eco-friendly aspect, but because I’d like to have a material that was naturally water-resistant and did not require finishing.

That’s why I was excited to learn, a few months ago, about EcoSheet, which is a “plywood replacement” panel material manufactured by British firm Environmental Recycling Technologies. I hit them up for a sample and they sent me a 4″ x 4″ x 3/4″ piece of the stuff, which is pictured above. It does not weigh as much as plywood, but seems just as rigid, and drills and cuts easily. And although their initial market seems to be the construction industry, specifically temporary structures erected as barriers and pouring forms, I’m looking forward to experimenting with “off-label” uses when and if it becomes available in small quantities in the US.

EcoSheet is manufactured from 75% recycled material, mostly waste electrical and electronic equipment, and can itself be recycled at the end of its useful life.

Update: Peter Ball from EcoSheet just contacted me to let me know that their latest manufacturing process uses 100% recycled material. [Thanks, Peter!]


I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan