plastic telephone poles.


Why are trees still being used for telephone/electric lines instead of plastics?

In: 2

They’re cheaper and better. Trees are super good at being a tree and if you treat the wood it can last longer than the more expensive composite pole would. Most plastics actually degrade pretty quickly in the sun.

Concrete and steel poles are becoming fairly common, but wood remains one of the most durable and cost effective building materials we have, at least in the US. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, y’know?

For a plastic pole to be built strong enough, it would be far too expensive.

Plastic is actually fairly expensive. It is used to make cheap things because it takes very little plastic to make most objects and can be made very fast, but utility poles need to be nearly solid and larger objects see less benefit from the speed of plastic manufacturing.

Wood is way cheaper and just as strong.

Because it’s expensive to make a plastic thing that big and plastic degrades with UV light unlike the things utility poles are normally made from like metal and concrete.

**Tree** is a composite structural material, nano-assembled for us by a process that’s been building tall sturdy poles for millions of years.

The big problem with using live trees as utility poles is that they grow and shed branches, which can knock the wires down. So we usually kill the trees and take the branches off before using them to hang the wires on.

The big problem with using dead trees as utility poles is that if you stick a dead tree in damp ground, it will eventually rot or get eaten by termites. We fix this by soaking the pole in creosote or other sticky preservatives.

Tree is cheap. Even after going to the effort of killing and shaving the tree and soaking it in preservatives, tree is still pretty cheap.

Tree is springy. It doesn’t easily blow down in the wind, especially if you take the branches off.

Tree is easy to hammer things into. You can hammer big nails into it and use them to attach stuff. You can hammer other nails into it and use them to step on when you’re working on the wires. You don’t have to bring welding equipment to attach a metal spike to a tree; you just have to bring a big hammer and maybe a drill.

Basically, tree works pretty well.