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Have you ever thought that the decking, flooring and piping you use in your construction projects may have previously been vinyl siding?

Many construction professionals, contractors (and even consumers) don’t realize that when you recycle vinyl siding, it can go back into the manufacturing process, where it’s ground down and reused to create new products and even more vinyl siding. Some also don’t know that vinyl siding manufacturers are pioneers in the field of recycling, having invented vinyl siding in the late 1950s and 1960s and then innovating the category through the use of a co-extrusion process in the late 1970s/early 1980s and leading the way by creating nearly zero waste environments in their plants through post-industrial recycling.

This co-extrusion process introduced the concept of “closed-loop” post-industrial recycling–or at least the start of landfill diversion–in which 99% of the in-house scrap can be returned to the same manufacturing process to make more products.

Continuous improvements to the finished products have made vinyl siding the most sustainable cladding on the market with regard to its durability, energy efficiency performance (insulated vinyl siding) and limited impact on global warming.

As part of these continuous improvement efforts, the industry is now focused on post-consumer recycling solutions. The Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI) and industry-leading recyclers and manufacturers have been working for the past year on a mission to develop a post-consumer recycling program model that can be replicated throughout North America.

Many of these prominent vinyl siding players have been working hand-in-hand since last September in the geographic heart of the industry to form a meaningful alliance that aims to make a powerful impact on vinyl siding’s recycling program development.

Enter the Vinyl Siding Recycling Coalition Pilot Program

The Vinyl Siding Recycling Coalition Pilot Program is a proactive, industry-wide initiative currently serving Northeast Ohio and surrounding areas. The coalition’s primary goal is to coordinate consumers, contractors, distributors, waste collectors, transportation groups, cleaners/recyclers, manufacturers and other relevant stakeholders to increase the amount of post-consumer recycling in the area.

Comprised of recyclers and collection sites, the coalition also is made up of companies like contractors and manufacturers interested in raising awareness of the availability of vinyl siding recycling.

The group has worked collaboratively on this on-the-ground solution that works directly with dealers, contractors and mill shops to collect, return and recycle scrap PVC from fabrication shops, construction sites and remodeling projects.

“We want to learn from this pilot program, work through the kinks and make it a viable, successful program for many other communities across North America,” says Kate Offringa, president and chief executive officer of VSI.

According to one coalition member, they are recycling over 7,000 pounds of vinyl siding a month since the coalition started last September. Rosby Recycling Resources attributes this success to the coalition efforts in Cuyahoga County. Rosby is also a construction and demolition landfill, and prior to the coalition’s efforts, had been landfilling vinyl siding.

The pilot program has three recycling centers to date supporting the effort that reaches as far as Columbus, Detroit and Pittsburgh. Here’s a map of the program’s current service areas.

As the coalition’s membership continues to grow, so does the number of recycling centers that accept and recycle vinyl siding. Here is the latest list of participating collection site locations and sign-up opportunities.

Looking Ahead

For the vinyl siding industry, the coalition’s collaborative efforts continue to provide valuable data and insights for VSI to achieve its ultimate goal–to develop a vinyl siding recycling program model that other geographic regions can replicate.

VSI’s Vice President Matt Dobson says the recycling pilot program is a prime example of an initiative that VSI hopes to scale to provide a much more significant impact in the future.

“Our goal is to continue to test the approach, determine how much impact it can make in that geographic area, make course corrections, and then expand the program geographically to create a post-consumer closed-loop system in which our members’ products get to become new products numerous times.”

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