Vycom Unveils Pilot Version of Recycling Program at PRINTING United Expo
Performance plastics, which include polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) found in the specialty graphics industry, are valuable long after their initial usage. The problem is many companies don’t know what to do with their leftover signage and scraps. Vycom (Booth C10721) has the answer.
A subsidiary of The AZEK Company, Vycom is conducting a pilot version of its recycling program at PRINTING United Expo, where printed and unprinted rigid PVC and acrylic cut-offs and trim are being collected for recycling free of charge from select exhibitors. Attendees can find these designated 4x3’containers at Canon (Booth N1009), Cutworx (Booth C9723), Kongsberg Precision Cutting Systems (Booth C4807) and Zünd (Booth C5715).
Partnering with Shepard, the official event services provider for The Expo, scrap and unwanted printed PVC will be collected from the bins and picked up by Return Polymers, another affiliate of The AZEK Company.
The materials will then be reprocessed into the company’s internal PVC and HDPE products to keep waste out of landfills — a big step toward a more sustainable future.
Vycom has been working on this program for roughly three years. The pandemic initially hindered its ability to reach a broad audience, with trade shows on pause, but it wasn’t enough to dim the manufacturer’s passion for the cause. According to Kevin Duffy, Vycom’s VP of sales and marketing, the company repurposed over 500,000 lbs. of materials into its products last year and has set a goal of pushing that number to 1 billion lbs. annually by 2026.
“We can be doing more today if we just find more streams of this material that are, unfortunately, going to landfills,” Duffy said. “We can recapture it and put it in our products, and we view the graphics industry as a great potential partner. They’ve never had a solution like this before.”
Duffy says it’s been a learning experience, not just for members of the graphics community, but also for Vycom. Not all plastic is created equally — nor can it be recycled equally.
“A lot of times we’ve found people throw trash in the bins and they don’t read the signs, so I think just scaling it down for this first shot at PRINTING United made a lot of sense,” Duffy said.
For Duffy, creating awareness and building confidence are key.
“The really big thing here is that most of these materials don’t have good recycling end-of-life stories, so for us it’s like, ‘Hey, obviously we want more people to use PVC because we think it’s a great material for this market,’ but if you combine that now with a great end-of-life story that really many other materials that are rigid and that will hold up in kind of these environments … yes, they have some type of sustainability stories as well, but they’re not as robust a material,” he said. “… If you combine the performance with the sustainability, it’s a great solution.”
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.