The secondhand giant is working with sustainable home building supplier The Azek Company on a joint recycling initiative transitioning plastic waste into outdoor living products.
ThredUp will transport emptied clean-out bags, the ones people use to dispatch their unwanted but still sellable clothing, shoes and accessories, to Azek’s vertically integrated polyethylene recycling facility in Wilmington, Ohio, where they will be processed into TimberTech composite decking. The 85-percent recycled content material looks like natural wood and decks made with it don’t need to be replaced, Azek claims.
Azek CEO Jesse Singh said the partnership will help the manufacturer reach its own sustainability goals. “It is unique collaborations with innovative and like-minded companies such as ThredUp that will help us meet our goal of recycling one billion pounds of material annually by the end of 2026,” he said. “We are two companies revolutionizing two industries—fashion and building products—to create a more sustainable future,” he added.
Singh said Azek has recycled almost 1.7 billion pounds of post-consumer and post-industrial waste and scrap material for use in its outdoor living and building products, and noted that those products are also recyclable at the end of their useful life. The company claims to be the largest vertical U.S. recycler of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a high-strength plastic commonly used in pipes, doors and windows.
Singh says the duo is jointly focused on “saving trash and saving carbon,” adding that their purpose-driven strategies aligned around the goal “to have an outsized impact on the world, while growing a sustainable business.”
Azek will recycle every single bag sent into ThredUp going forward. “While ThredUp’s mission is rooted in circularity, we are also focused on ways to ensure our own operations are as sustainable as possible,” said Alon Rotem, chief legal officer for ThredUp, which has worked with several resource recovery and recycling companies in the past. “This partnership is an exciting opportunity to level up our previous bag recycling program and create long-lasting premium products that people can enjoy and feel good about.”
The recycling partnership also helps ThredUp reduce its carbon impact. To date, the company has processed more than 137 million secondhand products, displacing over 637 million pounds of CO2 emissions in the process.
In November, chief financial officer Sean Sobers said a recent returns surge affected about $3 million in revenue during the third quarter. CEO James Reinhart said the company might restrict the number of Clean Out bags it will accept “to meet a more sober demand environment.”