The Washington-based Vinyl Institute has awarded $460,000 in grants to six organizations finding ways to improve the recycling rate of post-consumer PVC across the United States.
Vinyl material can be recycled as often as eight times without losing its durability and resilience but most PVC toys, building products and medical supplies don't get a second life.
In 2019, of the 1.1 billion pounds of vinyl material recycled in the U.S. and Canada, 87 percent was post-industrial vinyl, usually in the form of production scrap generated by switching lines and colors, and just 13 percent was post-consumer vinyl, or about 142 million pounds.
VI is trying to grow PVC recycling capability and capacity through its Viability grant program, which will give away $3 million over the next three years. The grants are funded by VI members Formosa, Oxy, Shintech and Westlake.
"The U.S. PVC resin manufacturers are committed to increasing the volume of post-consumer recycled PVC," VI President and CEO Ned Monroe said. "The initial six Viability grantees span a variety of applications and approaches to post-consumer PVC recycling. We are growing PVC recycling capability and capacity to help our industry reach its goal of 160 million pounds of post-consumer recycled PVC annually by 2025."
The grant recipients are: Chemical Fabrics and Film Association of Cleveland; Every Shelter of Houston; Kelly Green Board LLC of Waterbury, Conn.; Norwich Plastics of Cambridge, Ontario, and Roger Regional Health System of Rochester, N.Y.; Oregon State University of Corvallis, Ore; and the Vinyl Siding Institute of Alexandria, Va.
Monroe said the organizations reach across the spectrum of the vinyl industry and represent innovation and progress. They can use the grants for PVC recycling projects that support the purchase of equipment, advanced recycling research and development, educational opportunities and program management.
Applications for the next round of funding consideration for Viability grants are due July 17.
Here's what the first round of grant recipients are doing to spur PVC recycling:
• The Chemical Fabrics and Film Association (CFFA) of Cleveland has a vinyl roofing division that recycles single-ply roofing products. In 2022, the division recycled 19.2 million pounds of pre-consumer PVC roof membrane and 1 million pounds of post-consumer PVC roof membrane. CFFA will use the grant to build the program by improving logistics, educating value chain members, and developing end markets for recycled PVC material.
• Every Shelter, a nonprofit group in Houston, repurposes vinyl billboards to provide shelter for refugees in displacement camps in the Middle East and East Africa as well as to stabilize the homes of U.S. disaster victims. The group says upcycled vinyl billboard has an average service life of 24 months compared to 30 days for the tarps FEMA currently provides. Every Shelter will use its grant to develop a proof of concept for a business model that includes the manufacture, storage and distribution of billboard material.
• Kelly Green Board LLC, a manufacturer of building products made from 100 percent recycled beverage cartons, cups, and other components, is developing a circular use of PVC roofing membrane. The roof board product contains 50 percent post-consumer roofing membrane and 50 percent post-consumer carton packaging material. The Waterbury, Conn.-based company says the resulting recycled PVC roof board has greater water resistance when compared to other roof cover board products. Kelly Green Board will use its grant to further product development and manufacturing and conduct independent third-party laboratory testing.
• Norwich Plastics of Cambridge, Ontario,and Rochester Regional Health System in Rochester, N.Y., are developing the MediVinyl+ Clean PVC Medical Reclaim and Recycling pilot program to prove the viability of a medical recycling. Similar programs are offered in Canada, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. Norwich Plastics and the Rochester health system will use the Viability grant to develop the program logistics and training materials, conduct hospital personnel training, install material handling equipment at one of the Rochester Regional Health System locations, and recycle the collected materials.
• Oregon State University's School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering in Corvallis, Ore., is researching the production of high-quality waxes from PVC by hydrothermal treatment and hydrogenation. The school will use the grant to fund continued research and development. The successful implementation of this program has the potential to address the entirety of single-use PVC waste and to open up the adhesive market for PVC upcycling.
• The Vinyl Siding Coalition in Alexandria, Va., led by the Vinyl Siding Institute, established a pilot program in Northeast Ohio that has recycled 125,000 pounds of post-consumer residential vinyl siding. The coalition intends to use the grant to build operating infrastructure to enable the program to grow.
This includes developing a governance structure, establishing a brand, creating an operational tracking system and website, and initiating activities to expand into two new markets in 2024. VSI's overall goal is to recycle 5 million pounds of post-consumer rigid vinyl annually by 2026.