Packaging giant Berry Global Group Inc. and Azek Co.'s Azek Building Products are working together in a program to send Berry waste plastic to Azek for use in sustainable building materials, such as composite decking.
Based in Evansville, Ind., Berry is the largest plastics processor in North America. The recyclable plastic will come from its operations across multiple facilities and divisions, which produce packaging for healthcare, household cleaning and grocery products among other items.
"Previously, the materials were exported. We are now excited to have a domestic outlet in which the materials can be fully utilized," Burnice Wilson, Berry's director of materials optimization, told Plastics News.
Chicago-based Azek has a recycling facility in Wilmington, Ohio, that is located near multiple Berry sites. Azek spent $42.8 million on the property, plant and equipment in 2018 to turn used polyethylene shampoo bottles, milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles and plastic wrap into a material that gets a second life as the core of TimberTech Pro and Edge decking.
Azek used more than 290 million pounds of recycled materials in its deck boards in fiscal year 2019, and company officials expect to increase the amount by more than 25 percent in fiscal year 2020.
Wilson said Berry's materials group had common ties with the sourcing team at Azek from previous business dealings.
"In an effort by both parties to create a streamlined, closed-loop process for movement of material, the idea of 'sustainable partnering' came about and has since taken off," Wilson said.
The partners will utilize several service providers to deliver the recyclable products to Azek in the required form, Wilson added. The goal is to recycle 30 million pounds of plastic a year.
"The process is proprietary in scope, but the material flow touches all the areas that Berry is involved in [films, blow molding, thermoforming and injection molding] and has the ability to absorb commingled streams," Wilson said.
The long-term strategic partnership is expected to benefit both companies in their efforts to lower the environmental impacts of their products and operations.
"This agreement strengthens our position, expands our recycling initiatives and enables us to increase the overall sustainability of our manufacturing operations," Azek CEO Jesse Singh said in a press release.
The collaboration with Azek is representative of Berry's focus on investments in both mechanical and advanced recycling, the innovative use of recycled material in products and global commitments to address plastic waste in the environment, the companies said.
"Through continued sustainable partnering up and down the plastics supply chain, we are further exhibiting the power of plastics to help move the world toward a circular economy," Berry CEO Tom Salmon said in the release.