Trex Co. Inc. needs more shopping bags and plastic films to recycle into composite decking as demand for its products keeps climbing.
The pandemic sent sales of building products for outdoor living skyward as people created new spaces to work and learn at home.
Trex sales increased 18 percent to $881 million in 2020 for another record year. More capacity is coming online this year and more materials will be needed, too.
To improve its material stream, Trex is expanding its NexTrex incentive program to obtain more recycled polyethylene bags and wraps, which are combined with reclaimed wood and sawdust to produce the decking.
Called the NexTrex Supplier Incentive Program, participating retailers and other partners can earn points for their contributions to the company's recycling program and redeem them for composite benches made of Trex decking, a choice schools and universities have made.
Trex is giving points for various actions and milestones, such as years of participation, annual program growth, in-store program promotions, community engagement and more.
The program expansion comes on the heels of bag bans and fees in some regions.
Trex benefited when most of the company's 32,000 retail participants were deemed essential businesses, according to Dave Heglas, Trex's senior director of supply chain excellence.
"The Trex team has worked diligently throughout the pandemic to keep the NexTrex program active despite the challenging environment," Heglas said in an email. "We are fortunate that the majority of our retail partners are classified as essential businesses and have, therefore, remained open to the public during the past year."
Still, Trex could use more grocery and retail bags, plastic mailer bags, bread bags, case overwrap, dry cleaning bags, newspaper sleeves, ice bags, Ziploc-brand and other closeable bags, produce bags, bubble wrap and cereal box liners.
The NexTrex Supplier Incentive Program aims to recognize and reward best practices and spur more by encouraging retailers to engage their teams and surrounding communities in the program.
"The actions are easy to achieve and the rewards add up quickly," Heglas said. "Ultimately, our goal is to make it fun and to thank our partners for the vital role they play in the recycling process."
One of the largest recyclers of plastic film in North America, Trex reclaims more than 450 million pounds of polyethylene plastic waste annually in the making of its world-famous decking, which is composed of 95 percent recycled material.
After collection at retail sites, the recycled plastic material is sent to local distribution centers, where it is sorted and shipped to Trex's manufacturing facilities in Virginia and Nevada.
"The contributions of our eco-minded supply chain partners are not only integral to our manufacturing process, but also critical to addressing our country's growing plastic waste problem," Heglas said. "With the help of our partners, Trex is able to divert hundreds of thousands of tons of discarded plastic film from ending up in oceans and landfills each year by repurposing it into beautiful, sustainable Trex decking."