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Recycling Vinyl Siding

Even though wood, gypsum board, and cardboard make up 75% of most job-site waste, recycling vinyl siding can be an important part of a construction or demolition waste management plan

Posted on Mar 10 2011 by Peter Yost

In 1998, while at the NAHBNational Association of Home Builders, which awards a Model Green Home Certification. Reseach Center, I worked on a vinylCommon term for polyvinyl chloride (PVC). In chemistry, vinyl refers to a carbon-and-hydrogen group (H2C=CH–) that attaches to another functional group, such as chlorine (vinyl chloride) or acetate (vinyl acetate). siding recycling project in Grand Rapids, MI. It was pretty simple: siding installers stuffed their cut-off waste into the long cardboard boxes the new siding came in, and back-hauled both to the same place they bought their vinyl siding stock. There, the vinyl cut-offs were placed in one container and the cardboard in another. The vinyl cut-offs were baled and when a 40,000-pound load was accumulated, a plastics broker would negotiate a price for the tractor-trailer load.

Recycling vinyl siding
Since polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a thermoplastic material, it is pretty straightforward to recycle: it is simply ground up and re-melted and formed or extruded into new products. Having said that, PVC faces the same major recycling obstacles as many other materials: efficiently collecting enough waste material and managing contamination. The former is an important problem for new construction cut-off waste: getting together 40,000 pounds of cut-offs is a heck of a lot of cut-offs. The latter is a particular problem with tear-off vinyl siding, where dirt, nails, and mixed-in aluminum flashing all pose different separation challenges.

So where does vinyl siding recycling stand today?
Many plastic recyclers will take PVC material, even though their focus may be other more consumer-based plastics, such No. 1 polyethylene terephthalate (PETE or PET) or No. 2 high density polyethylene (HDPE). While there are plastics recyclers nation-wide who will recycle PVC, you may need to work with them on construction and demolition PVC recycling, dealing with the two main issues listed above: quantities and contamination.

Does this make vinyl siding green?
You will find no shortage of perspectives on this issue. A lot depends on how you weigh various environmental attributes — such as toxic constituents — and how you weigh a variety of very complex human health studies. A good start on this issue is the vinyl pro ("Vinyl is Green") and con ("Vinyl is Lethal") blogs here on GBA.

What about that vinyl siding recycling project from 13 years ago?
I am happy to report that Eikenhout Inc. — distributors of roofing, siding, doors and windows — still recycles vinyl siding in Grand Rapids, MI. Eikenhout now uses a 30-yard roll-off serviced by Waste Management, Inc to collect the vinyl siding waste. Curt Van Heuvelen, CGP, of Eikenhout, reports that the container is filled and emptied around once a month and Eikenhout accepts plenty of tear-off as well as cut-off waste vinyl siding. “Our vinyl siding recycling program is still going strong and is an important element of our company green building approach,” says Van Heuvelen.

Resources
The American Chemistry Council has a pretty good Vinyl Siding Recycling: A How To Guide. The Guide provides a good overview on PVC recycling and then steps to follow to build a recycling program.

The Vinyl Institute has a good collection of information resources: a Vinyl Recycling Directory and a Recycled Vinyl Products Manufacturer Directory.


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Image Credits:

  1. Eikenhout, Inc.

1.
Fri, 03/11/2011 - 18:18

cool
by Aaron Vander Meulen

Helpful? 0

I've been looking for someone in the area that would recycle vinyl, thank you for the article.


2.
Mon, 03/14/2011 - 12:29

Kalamazoo Recycling
by John Zito

Helpful? 0

Here's a plug for another Michigan recycling location for vinyl siding: Jax Building Supply (not Jack's) in Kalamazoo. They take cut offs and tear offs as well.


3.
Thu, 05/03/2012 - 20:28

Edited Thu, 05/03/2012 - 20:30.

recycled vinyl siding
by David Ewald

Helpful? 0

We manufacture artificial fish habitat products from reclaimed siding. We will take all the material that is available in the midwest. Call for more information. 815-693-0894. Patented process allows use of material for all aquatic applications including aquaculture, water purification and fish habitat.

Fishiding.com

Safehouse fish attractors.jpg Habitat.jpg fishiding in a Nebraska pond before filling.jpg


4.
Tue, 09/25/2012 - 15:28

boston area collection?
by Hobbit _

Helpful? 0

Okay, so is anyone aware of a collection point for vinyl siding
in the Boston MA area? I've got a respectable batch of cutoffs...

_H*


5.
Tue, 09/25/2012 - 15:54

Response to Hobbit
by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor

Helpful? 0

Hobbit,

Here you go:
Entis Associates
1600 Beacon Street, Suite 506
Brookline, MA 2446
USA
Phone: (617) 267-2322
Fax: (617) 277-9493
Contact: Jack Entis
Contact Title: President

Do your own search here:
http://www.vinylinfo.org/recycling/directory/


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