Roofing giant GAF to produce recycled asphalt shingles

In contrast to many different locations, which can use supplies like slate and terracotta for roofs, North America predominantly covers homes with asphalt shingles. About 75% of U.S. roofs are coated by this materials, due to its low price, water-repelling qualities, and ease of set up. However, the abundance of the fabric places pressure on the surroundings. In accordance to the Environmental Safety Company (EPA), 11 million tons of asphalt waste is generated yearly, most of which results in landfills. It takes about 300 years to decompose.

Fixing the environmental toll has been a precedence for GAF, the largest roof producer in North America. Greater than 12 billion square feet of shingles are manufactured every year, they usually final about 12 to 15 years on the standard roof earlier than they want to get replaced. “What will we do with these shingles once we take them off?” asks Jim Schnepper, the corporate’s president. After 4 years of growth, GAF has introduced an trade first: a brand new patented course of whereby in any other case wasted asphalt is recycled and transformed into new shingles for roofs—making a round roofing system that the corporate goals to streamline into its total product line.

[Photo: Courtesy of GAF]

Recycling asphalt isn’t a brand new approach; roof shingles are generally recycled into paving shingles, nevertheless it’s proved simpler for the paving trade to create a round system, recycling outdated street asphalt for brand spanking new street asphalt. For the roofing trade, trials to date have struggled to discover the steadiness between price and efficiency, says Dan Boss, GAF’s senior VP of analysis and growth. It’s costly to extract the pure asphalt out of the shingles; however, protecting the opposite supplies within the shingle—specifically the rock granules—can degrade the standard of the brand new product. Boss says GAF has now perfected an reasonably priced method of recycling the shingles, whereas cleanly eradicating that “stone mud,” whereby 90% of the shingle waste materials is reused.

The shingles are faraway from roofs, and despatched again to GAF in giant chunks. They chop these into four-inch squares, take away the rock granules (which they then put aside and reuse later). The items, wealthy in asphalt, are floor up right into a powder, after which compacted into small briquettes “that [look] so much just like the charcoal that you just’ve used in your grill,” Boss says. These are taken to a plant, the place they’re melted at a excessive temperature in a tank. They’re mixed with new uncooked supplies to create new shingles, which comprise up to 15% recycled materials.

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For an preliminary pilot section, one among GAF’s vegetation in New York is now beneath modification to course of the briquettes, and the ensuing shingles will go in the marketplace. With the learnings from the pilot, the corporate goals to take the system to one among their bigger industrial vegetation by early 2023 for the full-scale rollout. “Our intent is to put this throughout our total product class,” Schnepper says. “This isn’t a particular inexperienced product. That is what we’re going to do.” Shoppers gained’t see an increase in prices, regardless of the product makeover.

[Photo: Courtesy of GAF]

The shingles signify an preliminary funding of $100 million, which Schnepper says will probably take the corporate a lot of the method to manufacturing at full scale. As customers flip to extra sustainable objects, Schnepper says the shift is vital to the enterprise’s survival. But additionally, being the American chief in roofing comes with “accountability,” he says, to paved the way on impression. It’ll additionally take opponents to be part of the swap to circularity, and he says that whereas GAF is now the primary, others will probably comply with. In the event that they’re gradual, GAF might later take into account the potential of promoting the compressed, high-asphalt briquettes as uncooked supplies to different firms.

Schnepper stresses the corporate’s dedication to discovering sustainable new technique of roofing, even when which means turning to novel supplies. However, asphalt isn’t going wherever; in actual fact, the market is growing, probably to surpass $9.5 billion in dimension by 2025. So, for now, round shingles are the way in which to take advantage of distinction. “The potential impression of this product,” he says, “clearly makes it essentially the most important sustainability initiative that we, at GAF, have ever taken on.”