Azek to recycle vinyl from construction, demolition waste in new program
Chicago-based Azek Co. Inc. will begin using PVC scrap from construction and demolition (C&D) waste in its outdoor building products through a partnership with Bothell, Wash.-based DTG Recycle.
DTG Recycle, the largest C&D waste recycler in the Pacific Northwest, will collect PVC siding, windows, fencing and pipe from the region and send it to Azek's subsidiary, Return Polymers in Ashland, Ohio.
Return Polymers then will turn the scrap into blends of PVC material that become the recycled content of TimberTech brand Azek decking and Azek and Versatex brand trim.
The goal of the partnership is to use DTG Recycle's collection and processing network to expand Azek's so-called Full-Circle PVC Recycling Program beyond post-industrial producers of PVC scrap to the construction industry.
"We are excited about what this C&D recycling alliance with DTG Recycle represents — a new recovery channel for PVC waste and scrap that might be otherwise destined for landfills," Azek CEO Jesse Singh said in a news release.
Plastics industry officials estimate about 85 percent of industrial and pre-consumer PVC, such as manufacturing scraps, rejects and trimmings, is recycled in the U.S. and Canada, but only 14 percent of post-consumer PVC goods, such as vinyl floors, siding and roofing membranes, gets recycled.
The partnership not only tackles a big problem of what to do with some of the plastic materials generated during the construction, renovation and demolition of buildings, it will help Azek meet a goal to recycle 1 billion pounds of waste and scrap annually by the end of 2026.
"To achieve this ambition, and, ultimately, to advance and sustain a circular economy, it is imperative to find new solutions and new partners whose leadership, capabilities and sustainability goals match our own. We have found that and more in DTG Recycle," Singh said.
Founded in 1999, DTG Recycle's website says it has 1,500 recycling containers to set up at C&D sites and more than 100 trucks to service them. The filled containers are taken to one of the company's nine material recovery facilities for sorting.
Plastics that are not recyclable are processed into a low carbon fuel product for cement production.
The PVC scrap going to Return Polymers is turned into PVC polymer blends from 100 percent recycled sources.
With the alliance, DTG Recycle picks up an important new end market, according to CEO Tom Vaughn.
"This is a big win for the construction industry and communities throughout the Pacific Northwest, as this alliance both creates an open-loop recycling solution for otherwise landfill-bound debris and helps further protect the local and regional environments for everyone to enjoy," Vaughn said in the release.
PVC building products that enter the C&D channel have been a long-time challenge for the recycling industry, according to David Foell, founder of Return Polymers, which was acquired by Azek in 2020 for $18.1 million.
Some 600 million tons of C&D debris were generated in the United States in 2018, which is more than twice the amount of generated municipal solid waste, according to the latest figures from the Environmental Protection Agency.
More than 90 percent of total C&D debris generation comes from building demolition while construction represents less than 10 percent, the EPA also says.
While the industrial PVC recycling market is more established, the larger C&D market "remains largely untouched," said Foell, who founded Return Polymers in 1994.
"It will require the special skills, expertise, and unique technologies developed by Return Polymers to lead the market into these uncharted waters," Foell said in a news release. "This, combined with the leadership and reputation of DTG Recycle, sets us on a path to scale more rapidly and expand our C&D PVC recycling program to other regions in the United States."