From Cradle-to-Grave Vinyl Siding is a Sustainable Option
It has long been a challenge in the building community to identify a cladding product that can be recycled. You can’t recycle brick or wood that has been painted. Aluminum siding can be recycled, but there is not much demand for aluminum siding these days. Vinyl siding is the only cladding product that can be recycled multiple times into new vinyl siding.
As consumers, not only do we need to understand what can be recycled but we need to know where the product is in its life cycle, because many products can’t continue to be recycled into equal quality products. For example, we all recycle plastic bottles but plastic bottles rarely get recycled into plastic bottles, they are typically downcycled into a lower quality product that will eventually be disposed of in a landfill.
Making it Easy to Close the Loop
In response to market demand for a sustainable vinyl siding product we created a “closed loop” (cradle to cradle) program that enables our CedarBoards™ Insulated siding product to be manufactured with recycled content that includes post-consumer vinyl siding (tearoffs and construction scrap).
We developed a partnership between our distributors and recyclers who leave bins at their warehouses around the country. Contractors can bring old vinyl siding and scraps to the distributors. This eliminates the tipping fees that the contractor would pay at the landfill. The scraps and old vinyl are recycled to our specifications and we buy it back from the recyclers. It’s a win-win-win-win situation. The contractor can promote that he is recycling materials and he saves on fees. The distributor can sell the fact that he is “green” and has established this program for contractors which gains visibility with potential customers. The recycler has a committed, paying customer for the recycled product, and we are able to bring to market a sustainable vinyl siding product. This is one way we can control the waste stream.
Vinyl Siding is GREEN!
Sustainability is not only about the product’s environmental performance, it also includes resource management. Manufacturers need to be developing products that the masses can afford that are environmentally sustainable. Another way of looking at this is through what is known as a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). A LCA is a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product's life from raw material through disposal or recycling.
Vinyl siding has long been viewed by some as not being environmentally friendly. To answer this question with certainty CertainTeed went through the tedious process of conducting an LCA on CertainTeed’s vinyl siding products. After much analysis we are excited to report vinyl siding is GREEN!
Based on all the elements that go into the LCA such as raw materials, transportation, production, and installation vinyl siding clearly leads the way in sustainability. CertainTeed’s vinyl siding LCA has been accepted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) through the Building for Economic and Environmental Sustainability (BEES) program which is a leader in the credentialing of LCAs. The LCA provides full public transparency and ensures that manufactures are not engaging in green washing.
The LCA is an analytical tool used to quantify and interpret the flows to-and-from the environment over the entire life cycle of a product, process or service. It is also referred to as cradle-to-grave analysis. The goal of the LCA is to compare the full range of environmental effects assignable to products and services in order to improve processes, support policy and provide a sound basis for informed decisions. The term ‘life cycle’ refers to the notion that a fair, holistic assessment requires the assessment of raw material production, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal including all intervening transportation steps necessary or caused by the product’s existence.
The Results of CertainTeed's LCA
Our first step was to create LCA’s for all of our vinyl siding lines. In all cases, our vinyl siding outperforms alternative cladding products such as brick, stucco and even cedar in all of the environmental impact calculations identified in the BEES methodology.
CertainTeed is committed to product stewardship and the LCA, as well as the entire process to complete the LCA because it provides us with information to continue to improve processes to reduce their environmental impact. CertainTeed will continue the LCA process on all of our siding product lines as a firm commitment to our mission in sustainability.