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Green Communities

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

At Eikenhout, Inc in Grand Rapids, MI, they have been recycling their customers' cut-off and tear-off waste in one container since 1998.
Image Credit: Eikenhout, Inc.

In 1998, while at the NAHB Reseach Center, I worked on a vinyl 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 — 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 . 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 and a .

5 Comments

  1. Aaron Vander Meulen | | #1

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

  2. John Zito | | #2

    Kalamazoo Recycling
    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. David Ewald | | #3

    recycled vinyl siding
    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

  4. Hobbit _ | | #4

    boston area collection?
    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. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #5

    Response to Hobbit
    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:

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