Baled plastic film for recycling.

Trex reported $1.1 billion in consolidated sales in 2023 and year-over-year residential sales increased by $35 million in 2023. | Vojtaz/Shutterstock

Trex, one of the largest polyethylene film recycling companies in the U.S., recorded higher sales in 2023, particularly towards the end of the year. Company leaders anticipate the sales growth will continue into 2024, translating to strong end market demand for recovered film.

A major producer of plastic-wood composite lumber, Winchester, Virginia-based Trex reported $1.1 billion in consolidated sales in 2023, about the same as in 2022. But the number actually represents an uptick: In 2022, the company sold off its commercial products division (a much smaller portion of the business than residential), so its 2023 sales solely reflect the company’s residential segment. Year-over-year residential sales increased by $35 million in 2023, representing 3.3% growth.

Additionally, year-over-year fourth-quarter sales totaled $196 million, which is 8.4% higher than residential sales during the fourth quarter a year earlier.

In a statement, Trex CEO Bryan Fairbanks said the fourth-quarter numbers represent “a strong finish to the year,” and he said they reflect “strong demand for Trex products heading into 2024.”

That’s an important driver for recycled PE film demand. Trex is one of the largest PE film recycling companies in the country, with its decking products made from 95% recycled PE film and reclaimed wood fibers.  At its plants located in Nevada and Virginia, the company processes plastic it collects from commercial sources, including stretch wrap, and post-consumer film collected at stores.

Already a key player in the PE film collection sector, Trex’s NexTrex program (its collection arm that provides drop-off film collection options in consumer-facing locations across the country) recently took on even more prominence. A long-running plastic film drop-off directory led by consultancy Stina Inc. went dark late last year due to a lack of funding, and Stina currently refers directory visitors to the NexTrex list of participating retailers, describing it as “the most credible alternative” to the former drop-off guide. 

“While there are other recyclers beyond Trex, they currently handle a large amount of the post-consumer film collected through drop-off in the United States,” Stina wrote in a message on the directory website.

Trex used 337 million pounds of recycled PE film in 2022, according to the latest numbers the company released last summer.

Arkansas campus update

During a Feb. 26 call with investors, Trex executives discussed the financial results and also provided updates on company projects, including a major plastics processing facility in Little Rock, Arkansas the company is developing. First announced in 2021, the facility, which will include film processing capacity as well as manufacturing operations, was delayed due to market conditions. 

Brenda Lovcik, chief financial officer, told investors this month that the facility will ramp up in 2025, with its recycling line starting up during the first quarter and its compounding capacity coming on-line during the fourth quarter. The facility will begin producing decking in 2026. 

Fairbanks added the facility will take time to scale up to its full production output, and that to start with, it’ll be running less volume than Trex’s Virginia plant.

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