Fairlawn, Ohio — Building products giant Azek Co. is moving toward its goal of recycling 1 billion pounds of waste and scrap, including PVC and polyolefins, by 2026.
The Chicago-based firm — which ranks as the largest vertically integrated PVC recycler in the U.S. — recently reached the 500 million pound mark, recycling those materials as well as aluminum and steel.
"Our goal is to reduce our carbon footprint and create new end markets for recycled PVC and other materials," technical director Jeff Ross said Oct. 11 at SPE Vinyltec 2023, an industry conference in Fairlawn.
Azek has installed more than 1,200 large containers across the U.S. to collect PVC scrap from siding and other applications. With estimated sales of $785 million, vertically integrated Azek Co. holds the No. 9 spot for North American pipe, profile and tubing extrusion sales, according to Plastics News data. The firm posted total sales of almost $1.4 billion in the year ended Sept. 30, 2022.
"Recycling in general is good for the planet," Ross said. "Customers like it and want it."
But he added that Azek "is measuring progress in ways that allows for course correction," meaning that if a recycling strategy isn't working as expected, it can be modified.
Ross also said that it's important for end users "to know what type of recycled content you can use … [and] to calculate if a recycling goal is attainable."
Azek building products that use recycled content include decking, shingles and cladding. Ross said that a recent company case study focused on increasing the amount of recycled PVC that can be used in exterior applications.
Azek in August released its 2023 Full Circle ESG Report. In the report — which covered data from 2022 — officials said that the firm increased the percentage of recycled content in TimberTech Advanced PVC decking to around 60 percent, which they added was the highest in the PVC decking market.
The firm also increased the percentage of recycled content in TimberTech Composite decking to around 85 percent. Overall, Azek has reduced its total carbon intensity by almost 30 percent between its 2019 and 2022 fiscal years.
In late 2022, Azek and Oakland, Calif-based thredUP, an online consignment and thrift store, formed a recycling partnership to turn plastic waste from clothes packaging into composite decking. Azek will transport thredUP's used polyethylene clean out bags, which once held clothes sent to the company for resale, to its PE recycling facility in Wilmington, Ohio.