Plastics Recycling Update

Trex dives into recovered LLDPE pellet business

Wood-alternative lumber manufacturer Trex has announced its entry into the business of producing and selling linear low-density polyethylene pellets made from recycled material.

The Winchester, Va.-based company says it’s actively looking for markets for the LLDPE pellets, which primarily come from stretch films used in commercial shipping.

“We envision numerous applications for our recycled pellets,” Dave Heglas, senior director of material resources at Trex, stated in a press release. “They are ideal for use in the production of bags, including trash bags, as well as molded products such as bins, totes and even kayaks. We also see tremendous potential for these pellets in the manufacturing of both rigid and flexible tubing, such as agricultural drip tape.”

Plastics Recycling Update previously reported the company, best known for its recycled content wood-alternative lumber products, had entered the pellet business. In a conference call with investors, the company’s outgoing CEO said it was “the first step in monetizing our recycling and extrusion expertise.”

Overall, Trex reported an increase in sales and net income during the first half of 2015, compared to the same period in 2014. Its net income rose 38 percent to $36.3 million during the first half of 2015, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Trex has four lines dedicated to recycled pellet production, making it one of the largest producers of recycled LLDPE pellets in the country, according to a press release. The company also plans to add several more in the future.

Heglas declined to say how much material Trex expects to produce each year or how many pellet customers it currently has, but he described the volume as significant.

“We’re making large quantities of consistent material, and that’s the niche we feel we can fill,” he told Plastics Recycling Update.

Pellets sold to other manufacturers are currently being mixed with virgin or off-spec resins, but Heglas said he thinks applications exist for using them in 100 percent recycled content products.

The company started years ago producing pellets for its own use in decking materials, Heglas said. Before it began selling some of its pellets to other manufacturers more than a year ago, Trex managed excess LLDPE by inventorying and/or sending it as film to other companies producing pellets.

“We saw it as a better way to build a business with the excess,” he said.

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