WINCHESTER, Va., November 10, 2022 – In the spring of 2020, as Americans hunkered down for what would be more than two years of significant life disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us turned to the Internet for solutions. From the safety of home, we had everything from toilet paper to hiking gear to garden seeds shipped to us.
Online sales skyrocketed 71% in the second quarter of 2020 and 55% in the third quarter. The National Retail Federation reported that the trend continued through 2021, and the November-December holiday season grew 14.1% over 2020 to $887 billion, easily beating forecasts and setting new records – all despite challenges from inflation and supply chain disruptions. Online sales reached $205 billion, a new holiday season high in the U.S., according to Adobe.
The resulting glut of shipping materials provided environmental concerns to both consumers and the companies generating packaging waste. Especially worrisome was single-use plastics, given that less than 14% of the 86 million tons of plastic packaging was being recycled.
Some of your favorite brands saw an opportunity to do something better for the earth by recycling these types of plastics. Through the NexTrex® Retail Recycling Program, companies such as Rent the Runway, LL Bean and Urban Outfitters have found a way to transform their single-use plastic waste into beautiful and sustainable Trex® decking and outdoor products.
Making Sustainability Fashionable
Since 2009, Rent the Runway has pioneered the world’s first and largest shared designer closet, leading the way in re-commerce. By encouraging its customers to buy less and wear more, the company aims to help combat over 11 million tons of textiles that go to landfills each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to leveraging its rental platform to extend the useful life of garments and reduce fashion waste, the company also partners with several organizations to either reuse, recycle, or donate garments that can no longer be rented through its platform, achieving nearly 100% diversion from landfill.
One unique environmental challenge for the company was the plastic covers used to protect each garment after cleaning. In keeping with the company’s commitment to sustainability, it’s now combatting this impact by removing the plastic bags before mailing to consumers and sending them to be upcycled by Trex.
“As a company, we are focused on minimizing waste from our operations” said Megan Farrell, senior director of sustainability at Rent the Runway. “Our partnership with Trex has helped us recycle a significant amount of our plastic garment covers, keeping that material out of landfill.”
Rent the Runway shared with its followers on Twitter, “In 2021, RTR recycled 23,000 pounds (11.5 tons) of clothing, accessories, & reusable packaging through partner organizations – and over 95 tons of plastic through @Trex_Company (a.k.a., the weight of 14 elephants).”
Others in the fashion industry have joined the movement as well. Retailers including Free People, L.L. Bean, and Urban Outfitters all recycle their plastic bags with Trex.
“We appreciate the partnership we’ve established with the Trex Company over the last several years,” said Lucia Pellegrini, facilities manager for L.L. Bean. “It’s nice to know that our plastic waste is being recycled responsibly and resulting in a product that others can enjoy.”
In the case of Urban Outfitters and Free People, part of the URBN family of fashion, plastic recycling efforts began organically with a collection driven by some entrepreneurial employees. Now, more than 180 stores across the URBN network are involved with the NexTrex program. In just the last year, they’ve recycled more than 100,000 pounds of plastic film.
“Partnering with Trex was important because we wanted a sustainable solution,” said Julie Verdugo, senior director of sustainability and social impact for Free People and Urban Outfitters. “They are creating a durable product and saving trees — that circularity of materials and the transparency into where it’s going is important to us. We’re determined to keep everything out of the landfill, and the partner has to be ethically sound.”
Approximately 32,000 retail stores across the country are involved with the NexTrex program, proactively collecting and contributing commercial and post-consumer plastics to be upcycled into high-performance, low-maintenance Trex decking, railing and outdoor living products.
How NexTrex works
When individuals and companies donate plastic film to NexTrex, they not only help to keep thousands of pounds of waste out of landfills, but they’re also helping Trex to continue to make its eco-friendly outdoor products. NexTrex partners with retailers to collect recyclable materials including:
We strive to offer a program to make “recycling that’s as hassle-free as our decking.” NexTrex is easy to implement for retail stores of any size. Trex provides participants with recycling bins, instructional videos, promotional materials and a list of qualifying recyclable materials.
The Trex decking portfolio is sustainably made from primarily recycled and reclaimed content, including a mix of industrial wood scrap and polyethylene plastic film. Nearly all of the recycled plastic film used in the making of Trex products comes from post-consumer sources.
“Trex is an important partner in our sustainability efforts,” added Farrell. “The results really speak for themselves – we’re proud to partner with Trex on our plastic recycling solutions.”
About Trex Company, Inc.
Trex Company is the world’s largest manufacturer of high performance wood-alternative decking and railing, with more than 30 years of product experience. The #1 brand in outdoor living is proud to have been named one of 2022’s 50 Best U.S. Manufacturers by Industry Week and to have made Forbes’ 2021 List of America’s Best Mid-Sized Companies. Stocked in more than 6,700 retail locations worldwide, Trex outdoor living products offer a wide range of style options with fewer ongoing maintenance requirements than wood, as well as a truly environmentally responsible choice. For more information, visit Trex.com. You also can follow Trex on Twitter (@Trex_Company), Instagram (@trexcompany) Pinterest (trexcompany), or Houzz (trex-company-inc), “like” Trex on Facebook (@trexcompany), or view product and demonstration videos on the brand’s YouTube channel (TheTrexCo).
Contact: Anna Figy
L.C. Williams & Associates