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There is an alternative for lumber in the works—and it couldn’t come too soon. Due to supply-chain delays caused by the pandemic, lumber was $1,000 per thousand board feet in December 2021, representing a 167% increase from August 2021.

With this in mind, John Cotter, a doctoral student at the University of South Florida, has worked to replace lumber on building sites. “The idea is finding new ways to make building materials using different manufacturing methods,” Cotter says.

His most recent invention is comprised of concrete and a recycled plastic material, which has already been used as a solution for fencing and flooring. Cotter’s next steps are to get the substitute approved at a state level and to set the pricing at an affordable rate.


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