Piedmont Plastics is one of the nation’s largest wholesale distributors of plastic sheet, rod, tube, and film products, as well as custom fabrication services for finished and semi-finished parts. Since its founding in 1968, the company has grown its network with more than 50 branch distribution centers located throughout North America. The company recognizes that plastics provide lightweight alternatives to glass, metal, and wood across a variety of applications and industries, delivering solutions that are more viable while reducing environmental impact. Understanding the need for a more sustainable environment, Piedmont Plastics began offering customized recycling programs in 2014, which enabled them to continue the company’s long-term commitments to cost savings, sustainability, and its customers.
The Knoxville (TN) branch office and warehouse facility is more than 36,000 square feet and employs 14 specialists to help customers in the marine, automotive, signage, medical, aerospace, and more industries with their plastics needs. Along with its own scrap, this location accepts approved recyclable material and had been using a third-party recycle wholesaler for disposition. However, the continued challenge of keeping plastics out of landfills exacerbated by global commerce changes such as the embargo on plastic scrap imports by China and Malaysia, sent branch manager Ryan Champy, looking for alternatives.
“We had a visit from Matt Brunner, our Vycom territory representative, who told us about a new recycling program that Vycom was starting,” said Champy. He also liked the idea of knowing exactly where the PVC would end up, as it requires specialized knowledge of sorting and reprocessing by proficient recyclers. “The distinction of the Vycom program was that the PVC scrap would be used to manufacture deck products made by its affiliate companies, which meant we could be confident the scrap wouldn’t go into landfills anywhere,” Champy remarked.
The Knoxville branch implemented the Vycom PVC Recycling Program in early 2020, targeting one of its large marine manufacturing clients that also shares the company’s value of making strides in the field of sustainability. “This program is a great example of partnership with this particular client because they understand their role and they do a great job of sorting materials, which is an added step that some clients are reluctant to implement,” said Champy. “This manufacturer also promotes its participation in the program to endorse its commitment to our common goal of helping the environment.”
The Knoxville branch collects anywhere between 5000-7000 pounds of PVC scrap each week from this client, returning to them empty gaylords for the next round. Every 4-6 weeks, Return Polymers – a sister organization within The AZEK Company and a leader in PVC recycling and compounding – picks up a full 40-foot foot trailer loaded with 25,000-30,000 pounds of material and processes the recovered scrap PVC for distribution to various entities within The AZEK Company to manufacture long-lasting performance products.
“We’ve been running recycling programs for about seven years now, and the Vycom PVC Recycling Program is by far the best I’ve ever seen,” said Champy. “This program helps us tie the knot with our client. We provide the sheet product; our client doesn’t have to throw it in a landfill or pay dumpster cost and they, in turn, tell their customers that they’ll take the material back and return it to the manufacturer for recycling. They’re showing their commitment to sustainability to their customers through this program.”
About the Vycom PVC Recycling Program
The Vycom PVC Recycling Program is designed to take back and recycle printed and unprinted PVC sheets, as well as scraps and drops from finishing and fabricating. The program is intended for users of PVC, acrylic and olefin products – in coordination with authorized distributors for drop-off or collection – to recycle used signage and scrap. These materials are then returned to company recycling facilities and used to manufacture the company’s building and other performance products, ensuring this scrap is diverted from landfills.