Chicago-based Azek Building Products opened a $25 million recycling facility in Wilmington, Ohio, capable of turning 100 million pounds of used polyethylene a year into a material for its TimberTech brand composite decking.
The 102,000-square-foot facility houses a highly automated operation that takes trucked-in bales of post-consumer and post-industrial goods, such as plastic wrap, shampoo bottles, milk jugs and detergent bottles, from throughout the Midwest for reprocessing. The end product is a granular material formulated with wood fiber and extruded three miles away at a manufacturing plant for TimberTech Pro and Edge decking boards.
Azek marked the opening with tours on April 23 and also celebrated Earth Day, which was April 22, with attendees. Azek's goal is for the plant to recycle 100 million pounds annually by 2020. If the goal is reached, Azek could double the amount of material it recycles to 200 million pounds a year.
Azek renovated a Wilmington building for the facility and looked to Europe as well as the U.S. for equipment as the company moves forward with plans to divert waste from landfills and become more vertically integrated, said Bobby Gentile, Azek's senior vice president of operations, in a phone interview.
The first of three recycling lines is operating 24/7 with 28 employees. Azek will bring a second line online in July. The facility is expected to reprocess 55 million pounds of PE this summer. The third line is scheduled to start in early 2020 along with 12 more hires.
Azek says 100 percent recycled plastic fills the centers of Pro and Edge composite boards.
"One of our core values is do the right thing. We're doing this to keep 100 million pounds of waste out of landfills," Gentile said. "It also allows us to better manage our materials and have better quality control over them."
In addition, the recycling operation will help insulate Azek from market fluctuations for virgin resins, Gentile added.