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Trex Outdoor Living Collection: Green by Design

How Trex turned its manufacturing process into a sustainability movement.

December 21, 2023
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Trex has been engineering what’s next in sustainable outdoor living for more than 30 years, and it began when our founders saw the potential of using everyday materials that were destined for landfills to create beautiful, low-maintenance decking that endures for decades. Today, we are proud to be the #1 most trusted composite decking brand and the largest manufacturer of high-performance, eco-friendly composite decking and railing.

What you may not know is that Trex Company is also one of the largest recyclers of plastic film in North America. Over the past three decades, we’ve recycled more than five billion pounds of polyethylene plastic in the making of our decking – and that number continues to grow as our operations grow.

Turning Trash Into Treasure

At Trex, we take the plastic from discarded everyday items and combine it with reclaimed industrial wood dust to create our industry-leading composite deck boards. The flexible plastics we recycle come primarily from post-consumer sources – ranging from retail and grocery shopping bags to newspaper sleeves, dry cleaner bags, cereal package liners, sandwich bag, ice bags, shipping pouches and overwrap from items such as paper towels, toilet paper and other bundled or bulk products. We also source plastic from distribution centers for food, auto parts and consumer goods where large amounts of shrink wrap is removed from pallets.

But we don’t do it alone. Waste collection at this scale takes the combined efforts of thousands of business partners, retailers, schools and community groups across the country who partner with us to collect, sort, weigh and transport discarded plastic material to our manufacturing facilities across the U.S. Through our NexTrex® Recycling Program, we work with approximately 32,000 grocery and retail stores nationwide to provide consumers with opportunities to responsibly dispose of plastic shopping bags and other household plastic film for upcycling into Trex composite decking. We also support a multitude of recycling programs at the local and municipal level, along with grassroots green initiatives in communities across the country. Over the past 16 years, the annual Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge has educated and engaged thousands of K-12 students across the country in recycling and has earned numerous awards, including being named the “2023 Recycling Education Program of the Year” by the Arkansas Recycling Coalition.

This year, we revamped our community recycling program to simplify the process and make the program accessible to a broader range of participants. Today, there are more than 3,300 schools and community groups involved in the NexTrex program, and we rely on each and every one of them. Thanks to these partnerships, Trex has been able to repurpose over 1 billion pounds of recycled polyethylene film and reclaimed wood annually in recent years.

A Manufacturing Process as Green as Our Products

When you purchase Trex composite decking, you can feel good about building an outdoor living space that allows you to enjoy nature while also helping to preserve it. Because Trex decking is engineered for durability, you get lasting beauty with minimal maintenance.

Trex products are inspired by nature. You can see that in the woodgrain patterns of our boards and the range of colors we offer. But it can also be seen in the ways we embed sustainable practices throughout our operations. From our current production lines in Virginia and Nevada to our third facility under construction in Arkansas, we are committed to strengthening our environmental stewardship and improving efficiency.

Our manufacturing process is designed to generate minimal waste and divert material away from landfills. Nearly all factory scrap and plastic packaging is recycled back into our production lines. We also recycle approximately 99% of the water used in our manufacturing operations – and we’re working to reduce our energy usage and climate impact. Utilizing bi-coastal factories reduces our fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. We also work with our suppliers to reduce environmental impact across the supply chain, using post-consumer and post-industrial content and purchasing finished goods where possible.

Sustainability Starts at Home

At Trex, we believe good sustainable practices start at home, which is why our new global headquarters is designed to reflect and build on Trex’s environmental heritage, from incorporating energy-efficient lights throughout to installing solar cells on the roof and planning for EV charging stations in the parking lot. Even during construction, we leaned into our legacy of sustainability and innovation to achieve greater circularity and keep our environmental footprint to a minimum. By the time the building was completed, more than 12,800 pounds of composite scrap from deck boards, cladding and fascia were collected, ground down and recycled directly back into our production stream. Ultimately, the building was granted Silver LEED status for meeting key sustainability criteria.

We are proud of this achievement and all the recognition Trex has received over the years for our sustainability leadership. In 2023, we were recognized by Lowe’s as its “Sustainability Vendor Partner of the Year” and by Newsweek as one of America's Most Responsible Companies for 2024. Trex has previously been named The Home Depot's "Environmental Vendor of the Year. In addition, we are pleased to have been named an Eco Leader by Green Builder Media in 2023, the highest honor awarded by our industry’s leading voice on sustainable building. Trex also has consistently been voted the Sustainable Brand Leader by trade professionals for all 13 years of Green Builder’s Reader’s Choice program. These honors are especially meaningful to us because they affirm and reinforce that our focus on sustainability and creative positive change in the world resonates with our customers.

Sustainability is at the core of our company and at the forefront of our growth strategy. As our sales grow, so does Trex’s positive impact on the environment by using recycled and reclaimed materials to manufacture the most aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting decking and railing products on the market. We’re committed to continue innovating in ways that are gentler on the earth while giving shoppers high-performance products they can trust for decades to come. Together, we can build a more sustainable tomorrow.

Want to learn more about Trex's environmental legacy?

Check out the sustainability section of our recent ESG report

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