Recycling Today Magazine Hightlights Central States Reprocessing

ISRI 2016 Convention: Not so niche!

Recyclers are finding more end users for difficult-to-recycle plastics.

Troy Burgess, CEO, Central States Reprocessing LLC (CSR), Lincoln, Nebraska, said he has been in the PVC extrusion business for 22 years. CSR opened its doors in 2010, recycling high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) for the composite decking industry. In 2013, the company added a PVC recycling division as a result of customer demand, Burgess said. The company today converts 10 million pounds of PVC.

CSR learned quickly that the four main types of PVC—siding, window, pipe and fence—do not mix well with PP materials, Burgess said. Shutters are typically PP, and they cannot be mixed with PVC materials. Without commingling the material with PP, he said PVC can be recycled six times before its quality is degraded.

“We found that with PVC, it will not commingle with PP,” Burgess said.

He detailed hurdles recyclers of PVC face, including the belief that recycled PVC regrinds are inferior to virgin resins; building codes controlled and directed by large corporations that have a competitive advantage to use virgin resin; and applications for recycled materials.

Additionally, when collecting various types of PVC, Burgess said sometimes other materials are mixed in with the PVC loads and should be removed. These examples include concrete and other debris with fencing; glass and other non-PVC materials on windows; foam backings on siding; and chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) mixed with PVC pipe and most customers cannot process them together.

As CSR processes three different grades of PVC—A, B and C—Burgess said it is even more important to ensure materials are properly separated prior to being sent to the recycler. Sorting machines can separate the difficult-to-recycle plastics by color; however, they cannot sort by material type. As is the case with CSR, Burgess said he must pull out unlike materials by hand. If the materials are mixed, the quality is downgraded, as well as CSR’s total revenue from that load.

“When we get mixed bales of PVC siding, I have to manually go in,” Burgess explained. “I can sort by color all day long; but, if I want to separate siding, window, pipe and fence, I have to physically sort it out.”

Burgess said there have been some regional changes in the U.S., helping to increase the amount of end users who are willing to use recycled PVC in their products.

In addition to regional, PVC recycling is seasonal, Burgess said. CSR can bring in two to three trucks each day during the warm months, getting overwhelmed at times, whereas once winter hits, “I go on vacation,” he said.

Burgess provided this example during his presentation, citing Nebraska-based pricing: An average home siding replacement job is 38 square feet, with an average weight of 60 pounds per square feet. This equals to 2,240 pounds of recyclable product, with an average selling price of 5 cents per pound. The profit would be $112 per job. This outcome versus an average disposal cost of the same job at $80 per ton would result in disposal of the same material costing $89.90.

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