film recycling

Data from the decking company shows a drop in the weight of recycled film it used in 2022. | HappyStockPhoto/Shutterstock

Recycled plastic decking company Trex used 337 million pounds of recycled PE film in its products in 2022, it reported, and is taking steps to ensure it can get enough PE in the future. 

That usage continues to make it one of the largest recyclers of PE film bags, wraps and packaging in North America, though the company used slightly less material than it did in 2021 and 2020: 431 million pounds and 345 million pounds, respectively. Overall, it has used over 5 billion pounds of recycled PE since it was founded. 

The company attributed the decrease in 2022 to changes in production schedule and a focus on reclaimed consumption, it stated in its 2022 environmental, social and governance (ESG) report.

As part of its collection efforts, the company’s NexTrex community recycling programs worked with 3,300 schools and civic organizations to divert nearly two million pounds of plastic film from landfills in 2022. 

Bryan Fairbanks, president and CEO of the company, said in a press release that 2022 was “a dynamic year in which we effectively navigated challenging market conditions.” 

“Faced with increased channel inventories in the third quarter of 2022, we took action to align our cost structure with demand,” the report noted. “This required reducing production levels, streamlining our employee base and focusing on cost efficiency programs.” 

“While we were faced with these challenges, we upheld our commitment to long-term growth and sustainability, thanks to the dedication of our team and the quality of our products,” he added.

The company reported $1.1 billion in net sales in 2022, slightly lower than the $1.2 billion it reported last year. 

Preparing for tomorrow

Trex is also “proactively exploring new techniques that enable us to incorporate more challenging-to-recycle waste materials into our raw material mix, ensuring a steady supply of plastic waste for our operations in the future,” the report noted.  

Rising demand for recycled PE has also touched Trex, the report noted. The company adjusted its materials mix of waste PE and wood, reached out to new commercial partners, including Rent the Runway, L.L. Bean and Urban Outfitters, and invested in research and development to handle more contaminated feedstock. 

“In 2022, we redesigned our plastic film cleaning process to better prepare our raw material for decking manufacturing,” the report added. “This allowed us to begin using additional quantities of waste PE that would otherwise never be recycled, without compromising our product quality standards.” 

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