Recycling Solutions for Roofing
Approximately 11 million tons of roofing material waste is generated in the U.S. per year. Re-roofing jobs account for 10 million tons, with another 1 million from manufacturing scrap. Florida is estimated to generate 1.2 million tons per year, of which 1.1 million are tear-offs from re-roof jobs. These quantities may fluctuate with the construction industry, and with natural disasters such as hurricanes. As landfill availability decreases and tipping fees increase, solid waste generators are becoming more interested in finding alternative ways of managing roof waste.
Le Fong actively recycles 90% of all roof debris by transporting tear-off materials to local recycling centers.
Asphalt shingle, concrete roof tile, and asphalt felt paper debris are used in constructing new roads. Metal flashings are recycled and transported back to steel mills for reforming. Even wood scraps are separated out and recycled. It is estimated that during the 2004, 2005, and 2006 active hurricane process Le Fong recycled 10,000 tons of debris from torn off roofs each year.
For roofers there are real advantages to recycling, explains William Turley, executive director of the Construction Materials Recycling Association (CMRA). “In some states it is easier to recycle shingles than to dump them in the landfill. Where recycling facilities exist, they are often located closer in town, so there’s less trucking involved. Most facilities that recycle also charge a lower tipping fee.” The cost averages around $30 per ton or roughly $10 less per ton than ordinary construction waste. Roofers will need to separate out wood and other construction debris, but Turley says most roofers just make a separate pile, which is usually small, and throw that on top of the shingle load so it can be pulled off at the recycling facility.
Recycling Construction Materials
Roofing materials are no different. Yet, out of TPO, built-up-roofs (BUR), modified bitumen, rubber (EPDM), and vinyl roofs in the commercial, low-slope roofing market, vinyl (PVC) is the ONLY material with an established recycling system in place and has been in place for well over a decade. Since recycled vinyl is easily introduced into the raw material base for the manufacturing of new roofing and waterproofing membranes, it is an excellent candidate for recycling. In 1997, more than 905 million lbs of post-industrial vinyl and 18 million lbs of post-consumer vinyl were recycled. In 2005, Roofcollect® collected more than 1.3 million lbs of post-consumer vinyl in Europe. Most vinyl roofing membrane manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe participate in post-industrial recycling. At Sika Sarnafil Inc., more than 98% of all raw materials are converted into roofing and waterproofing membranes. Recycling construction materials reduces the impacts of producing new materials at the beginning of the lifecycle and the burden on landfills at the end.
Metal Roofing Uses Recycled Material
Metal roofing is made with a high percentage of recycled content from highly recyclable materials. According to the Steel Recycling Institute, the overall recycling rate of steel products in North America is 70.7 percent—the highest of any construction material. The Metal Initiative states that the recycled content of domestically produced, flat-rolled aluminum construction products is 80 to 85 percent, while the average recycled content of all copper and zinc products is 44 percent and 9 percent, respectively. According to the Metal Construction Association, most metal roofs have recycled content between 25 and 95 percent. When removed, metal roofs are 100 percent recyclable.