Vinyl. PVC. Plastic. When you hear these words, “environmentally friendly” probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind. Well, here at WamBam, we are dedicated to being a part of a movement to change that. But before we dive into the fascinating world of recycling, let’s get some general science out of the way.
What is PVC? Polyvinyl chloride (try saying that 5 times fast) is the world’s third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer. PVC, also known as vinyl, has inherent sustainability characteristics. The basic raw materials are made from rock salt and oil. It contains less carbon than most major thermoplastics. Because of this, it can be found in anything from construction materials, clothing, and you guessed it- fence! There is much more to it but we’ve got a link here if you want to know the nitty gritty:
Specifically, our vinyl fence is made from rigid PVC which does not contain any phthalates or BPA, which allows the material to be safe and stable. Now we have all heard about the impact plastics are making on the environment and we are not here to tell you the science is wrong, but we are here to say things can change for the better if we all take the steps to change them. Here at WamBam, we decided it was time to lead by example and start recycling our unused vinyl materials, instead of only donating them, to keep them out of landfills.
How is PVC recycled? Unfortunately, we aren’t in the future yet where PVC will be part of our bi-weekly recycling pick-up, so we had to do our research. Luckily, there is a state-of-the-art facility right in our own backyard!
JP Industrial has been in the plastics recycling game for over 30 years and knows a thing or two about PVC. We spent months collecting all scrap or damaged pieces of vinyl from our warehouse to be taken to their facility in Salisbury, NC. Once there, the vinyl goes through a drastic make-over. There are many steps that make up this process which depend on what the recycled material will be used for. The basic process is: sort, shred, wash, extrude, granulate. Once the PVC is broken down into a powder or pellets, it can then be used to mold entirely new products. Because PVC is so durable, this process can be repeated 7 to 8 times- that is a 120-year life span! If recycled correctly, your great, great-grandchildren can play with toys made from your old fence; just imagine the possibilities!
We were quite lucky to have JP Industrial close enough to do a pick-up for us because, this last time alone, we sent off 15,386 pounds of vinyl to be recycled! We were able to prevent over 15 thousand pounds of PVC from going to the landfill; just think of the overall impact this recycling process can have on our environment. Creating new products from recycled vinyl not only keeps these products out of landfills, but it also cuts down on emissions from creating new PVC. At WamBam, we are taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint one picket at a time and encourage everyone to do the same. Stay tuned for updates on our recycling program!