thought-leadership Thought Leadership

March 3, 2022 / 3 minute read

Sustainability and ADS’ 10-Year Recycling Goals

Written by Scott Barbour, President and CEO 

Scott Right Space

In late January, ADS released our FY 2021 Sustainability Report, which highlights both the successes over the last year around Environment, Social and Governance standards, and the goals the company has set for the next decade. We will speak to many of these goals, and our three-year forecast and business plan at our upcoming Investor Day to be held in New York at the New York Stock Exchange on March 10 both in person and virtually.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a bit more about the recycling goals we set, which are an expanded continuation of our promise to protect Earth’s most precious resource: water.

In regards to plastic and recycling, we’re already starting from a very good place.

Last year, we:

  • recycled 510 million pounds of plastic,
  • remained the second-largest plastic recycling company in North America,
  • decreased our plastic scrap rate in our factories 21%,
  • and in 2020, ADS consumed 28% of all of the recycled HDPE bottles in the U.S.

By setting our goal to use a billion pounds of recycled material annually by 2032, nearly double our current annual usage, we demonstrate our commitment to recycling both post-consumer and post-industrial plastic. We will reclaim and convert this material into long-term durable goods — products that remain in service for as long as 50 years, removing plastic containers and bottles from the waste stream. Additionally, this helps in the long-term reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the creation of these products.

Our ability to prevent plastics from entering the landfill and, in turn, manage stormwater are both critical to building a sustainable and resilient future for communities. It also makes tremendous business sense for ADS. It’s commercially attractive when we can rely on more recycled material because we’re able to smooth out the spikes in our input costs that can occur when using virgin plastics, a much more volatile market. Additionally, the more recycled material we access, the more plastics supply we have on-hand to convert into pipe, chambers and other projects that support our customers’ supply needs. 

I also believe there will be more policy and regulatory pressure to utilize recycled plastics in stormwater and on-site septic products made by manufacturers like ADS and our subsidiary Infiltrator Water Technologies. More than 20 years ago, we began researching and experimenting with recycled materials in our products, and we continue to invest in material science capabilities and laboratories to further innovate on the use of plastic materials to meet future regulatory environments

From a bottom-line perspective, we’re already seeing many returns: 55% of our total revenue and 66% of pipe revenue alone was derived from recycled product in FY 2021.

Admittedly, we will have to work hard to meet this 10-year recycling goal. But we have the financial wherewithal to scale and make the investments needed to get there. For instance, we recently acquired Jet Polymer Recycling, a privately owned recycling company located in the southeastern region of the U.S. and currently the largest supplier of recycled polypropylene plastic for Infiltrator. We’ve also made recent capital investments to increase our capacity, and will continue an R&D push to find new ways to utilize recycled plastic in our products.

It’s an ambitious decade we have ahead of us at ADS, but an exciting one. I hope you’ll follow along with us in our work to reduce our environmental impact and improve the communities we touch.

scott barbour sig



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