As a company built on eco-minded values, Trex Co., Winchester, Virginia, a leading manufacturer of high-performance, wood-alternative decking and railing, is enlisting communities and organizations to partner in its recycling efforts.
The recently launched NexTrex Grassroots Movement provides a turnkey framework for municipalities, universities, nonprofits and other qualifying businesses to serve as centralized drop-off locations for recycling polyethylene plastic film while earning funds for their organizations.
The grassroots movement is an expansion of the successful NexTrex recycling program, a nationwide material sourcing initiative for Trex, which manufactures composite decking from 95-percent-reclaimed material, including a mix of industrial wood scrap and recycled polyethylene plastic film. A large portion of the plastic film used by Trex Co. comes from a network of more than 32,000 grocery stores and retail partners that work with Trex to recycle commercial, industrial and postconsumer plastic film gathered through warehouse and front-of-house collection.
The new grassroots program extends the benefits of Trex recycling to businesses and organizations that may not meet the volume criteria for the company’s commercial recycling program, the company says.
“The goals of our grassroots program are to engage more partners, establish more recycling outlets for consumer collection and to increase overall accessibility to recycling by removing hurdles that prevent the organic growth of local plastic film recycling initiatives,” Trex Co. Materials Sourcing Manager Stephanie Hicks says. “The volume requirements established for our large commercial recycling partners are more than some organizations can attain or handle. The grassroots movement opens the program up to smaller but similarly eco-minded groups. It also expands the program beyond traditional grocery stores and retail drop-off locations, which can be limited in their collection abilities due to store hours or collection bin capacity constraints. By forming alternative partnerships, we hope to engage new and broader audiences in recycling.”
Organizations approved for participation in the NexTrex program can earn funding by serving as drop-off locations where community members can recycle their discarded plastic film packaging. Each grassroots partner is equipped with a baler, which is housed on-site for use in bundling and weighing recycled plastic material. After 20 to 40 bales are compiled (20,000 to 40,000 pounds of recycled plastic film), Trex will pick up and transport the material to its manufacturing facilities in Virginia or Nevada, where it will begin its new life as composite decking. Trex then provides a rebate to its partners for the baled recyclable films, making it a viable source of ongoing funding for business operations or community initiatives.
“The NexTrex program is an ideal example of a scenario where everyone wins,” says Hicks. “Trex wins by sourcing valuable material for our manufacturing process. Our partners win by driving increased community awareness and earning funds for their organizations. And the world wins when we are able to divert plastic waste from ending up in landfills and give it new life in something beautiful and sustainable like Trex decking.”
NexTrex program partners are supplied with everything they need, from instructional videos and promotional materials to free recycling bins and access to professional marketing and public relations support. If needed, Trex will provide upfront financing to help with the purchase and installation of industrial balers for partner locations. Rebate funds earned through material collection can be used to pay off the financing or baler costs, after which partners begin to receive full compensation for all collected film.
“Our partnership with NexTrex has been crucial in keeping LDPE [low-density polyethylene] film and bags in the recycling stream and out of landfills,” Emmet County Recycling Market Development and Commercial Accounts Manager Lindsey Walker says. “NexTrex has also been an outreach catalyst in the sense that other communities and programs are contacting us wanting to learn how we took a problem material—plastic bags—and created a solution via recycling with the best composite lumber manufacturer in the U.S. With good education, outreach … and strong end market relationships, plastic film and bag recycling is possible. Where there is a will there is a way.”
One of the largest recyclers of plastic film in North America, Trex recycles approximately 400 million pounds of plastic waste annually, nearly all of which comes from postconsumer sources such as shopping bags, newspaper sleeves, bubble wrap and package liners along with product overwrap, shrink wrap and stretch film used to palletize boxes, which are collected through NexTrex retail partners and other participating community groups.