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Building Matters

Vinyl Recycling

Shedding light on the challenge of reusing plastics

Hail damage shown on Calgary homes, Alberta, after a freak storm, moved through the area on Saturday, June 13, 2020. Entire neighborhoods saw vinyl siding shredded, and roofs destroyed as large hail pummeled the homes. Community businesses organized to help. Among them, Kaycan, a local siding manufacturer, agreed to collect damaged material for recycling. Photo courtesy Kaycan.

On June 13, a vicious hailstorm ripped through northeast Calgary, Alberta, shredding siding on homes, smashing windows, destroying roofs, and stripping leaves off trees. For the city of 1.6 million, already in a deep recession, the estimated $1.2 billion in storm damages worsened many families’ already-dire situation. Among several charitable efforts to help the city recover, one manufacturer of vinyl siding offered curbside pickup of damaged material to recycle at its local plant in nearby Carstairs, Alberta. This salvage effort saved homeowners’ landfill fees and reduced the volume of material discarded. 

The experience also inspired Kaycan, one of North America’s largest vinyl siding producers, to kick-start a post-consumer recycling program. They dubbed it “Green SENSE R3V” (for Reclaim, ReGrind, and Reprocess), a moniker that outlines the simplicity of vinyl recycling. Collect the material, mince, and melt it into a new siding. At the Kaycan plant in Carstairs, truckloads of storm-damaged siding went into chippers, normally used to reprocess factory scrap. These machines ground the old siding into triturate—a granular material suitable for melting into siding substrate, which is the material’s structural layer. The surface layer of the siding, known as capstock, requires virgin vinyl to guarantee design performance. The substrate, or structural layer of the siding, represents about 90% of the material thickness. Depending on the color, the substrate may contain up to 100%, post-consumer, recycled content, explained Peter Albis, Vice President of Operations at Kaycan. 

A vinyl siding line. Extruded vinyl materials are often made in layers. Usually, a base layer, or substrate, incorporating regrind (or pre- and post-consumer recycled vinyl), with a finished surface “capstock” of high-quality, virgin polymers designed to give the product fade-resistance and other performance characteristics. Photo by author.

The recycling initiative proved so successful that the company would expand Green SENSE R3V throughout its 14…

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2 Comments

  1. Deleted | | #1

    “[Deleted]”

  2. Stephen Sheehy | | #2

    The recession plagued City of Calgary recently spent almost $2 billion to buy Maine's second largest electric transmission/distribution company. Good news about siding recycling, though.

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