Kaycan’s New Recycling Program for Canadian Hailstorm Victims Creates Impetus for Vinyl Siding Industry Model Development
Editor's Note: The following blog post is the second in a series of posts related to VSI's Sustainability Work Group's initiatives that aim to spread the word that vinyl siding is a durable thermoplastic that is designed for recyclability. Check back in the coming weeks and months to read about how many VSI member companies are making the topic of recyclability a priority.
On June 13, 2020, a catastrophic tornadic hailstorm ripped its way through Southern Alberta (Canada), destroying farmland, motor vehicles and many homes. It was described as a “once in a century storm” with tennis ball-sized hail that shattered windshields and winds so strong they blew off manhole covers; and the combination of both peeled all kinds of siding off of houses.
To provide relief for the families affected by this disaster, and reduce unnecessary waste in the local landfills, vinyl siding manufacturer and Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI) member company Kaycan launched its new GreenSENSE R3V (Reclaim, Regrind and Reprocess) program on July 20. Leveraging its strong commitment to Alberta – where it has one manufacturing plant and three distribution centers – Kaycan’s program pledges to pick up the damaged siding from the impacted homes and replace with Kaycan siding.
In the wake of the storm, the VSI made a statement expressing sympathy to the Southern Alberta community while promising to serve as a resource to the industry and homeowners during the difficult period of recovery. And while disaster relief is undoubtedly the priority, the VSI and industry professionals are keenly observing Kaycan’s GreenSENSE R3V program because they see a very promising blueprint for a vinyl siding recycling model.
“Kaycan is a family-owned business with a big presence in this community,” explains Kevin Olson, Kaycan’s Vice President of Wholesale. “Our first reaction to this catastrophe was ‘what can we do to help?’ But we also saw an opportunity to assist economic recovery efforts with sustainable solutions."
The first “R” of the program – reclaim – was addressed by parking Kaycan trucks in affected areas so that contractors could quickly drop off damaged vinyl siding. Olson feels that contractors will not recycle if there is no financial incentive. “With this new program, we offer home builders the convenience of not having to take the siding to the landfill or call a service to do it. 99% of polymeric siding is recyclable, so we needed to make the proper provisions to emphasize re-use.” Olson states.
Once the vinyl siding damaged from the hailstorm is recovered, the next 2 “Rs” come into play. The trucks return the siding to the nearby plant to regrind and reprocess. Since all the Kaycan vinyl siding on these Alberta homes was manufactured locally, the post-storm materials are genuinely being “returned” to their “native home.”
“There are those in the construction industry who want to move away from ‘single-use’ materials,” Olson says. “Bricks take up twice the amount of water in a resource-intensive manufacturing process with no recovery on those inputs; and what can you do with fiberboard cement once you have to take it down from a house."
"Vinyl siding is the way to go to move away from single-use. It has a long lifecycle and I can’t emphasize enough that it’s 99% recyclable. In this market, where hailstorms are a recurring engine of huge economic cost for the construction industry, vinyl siding should be the only way to go.”
The Calgary area is a hub for severe weather conditions because it is wedged among high elevation winds from the Rocky Mountains to the west, cold winds from the north and humidity from the south. As the only bio manufacturer in Alberta, Kaycan is the obvious group to launch the GreenSENSE R3V program. It’s a pilot program that no one in the industry has done before, and – according to Olson – it’s quickly picking up steam.
“We’ve had great feedback from our customers, a strong response from the contractors, and we’re taking everyone’s product – even our competitors,” Olson proclaims.
“We are proud to partner with Kaycan in their commitment to the environment,” said Kim Greider of Premier Exteriors. “Although the recent storm has been stressful and chaotic for many homeowners, we as fellow Albertans look forward to helping them in their recovery and decrease the amount of waste entering our local landfills.”
Michael Desjardins of Triumph Renovations adds: “As a company that has focused on finding ways to reduce our environmental impact, we are very excited that Kaycan is recycling vinyl siding and not sending it to the landfill. Together, we can impact our environment while still providing a great service to our clients.”
In the first few weeks of the program, Olson felt that there was a lack of support from the local government and the media. He attributes this initial apathy to what he calls an “Instagram Environmentalism” that has a hard time reconciling with vinyl siding’s sustainable features.
Kaycan executed vital marketing initiatives to promote the GreenSENSE R3V, including a rebate program that pays up to $300 in vouchers per home that can be redeemed at local businesses, and outreach to insurance companies and underwriters. But it was the “word-of-mouth,” he notes, that ultimately has helped the program gain traction.
“Communities come together in a tragedy,” Olson explains. “They share ideas and offer each other support. The word-of-mouth from homeowners and contractors was the best media, and before long, it flowed rapidly across social media.”
As the program’s success has grown, Kaycan has connected with influencers from different levels of government to demonstrate what’s possible. The company is also exploring other opportunities to incentivize businesses to participate.
Despite its strong impact resistance and other durability features, vinyl siding – like all other claddings – can endure damage from hail. Because hailstorms are so infrequent throughout the rest of North America, they have not been accounted for in product testing for polymeric siding and other types of exteriors.
But the key takeaway is that Kaycan – using necessity as the mother of innovation – has propelled the industry forward in developing a recycling model that contractors, homeowners and communities can benefit from in a multitude of ways – if they are using vinyl siding.