Recycled asphalt shingles create a new rooftop view
Sounds like a circular economy solution that should have already happened, but it’s only now that GAF? the leading manufacturer of roofing materials in North America? has found a way to recycle asphalt shingles in new roofs.
The company says that about 13 million tons of asphalt are ripped off with old roofs every year when they come to the end of their design life, and that’s only in the United States. Only 10 percent of the material is recovered, with the rest ending up in landfills, which is about 5,000 pounds per average-sized runway. In most cases, those shingles are then replaced with new asphalt.
“Asphalt is, of course, a petroleum product, so reuse of millions of tons per year can have a significant positive impact on the global environment,” the company says. Plus, because they are oil-based and designed to be weather resistant, the shingles take a long time to break down, so it’s much better to keep them out of the garbage heap in the first place.
That never happened because there was no process to return shingles to roofs, and there really was no market for the old asphalt roofing. Historically, the 10 percent reclaimed became road asphalt, but it’s easier to simply recycle old paving materials into new paving materials. That left mountains of the shingles with nowhere to go.
GAF wanted a solution and now has three patents for making recycled asphalt shingles. The old shingles are ground, the impurities are removed and the remaining powder is mixed into new shingles. At the testing facility in Tampa, Florida, more than 90 percent of the asphalt was successfully salvaged and new shingles were made with 15 percent recycled asphalt, with no loss of quality or product performance.
GAF hopes to refine the process and improve the numbers even more, but a broader vision is at work. Some analysts predict that the global asphalt shingles market will grow to $ 10 billion by 2026, and rising demand also spans Europe and Asia.
The company expects its process to be used by other roofing manufacturers and is investing $ 100 million to reduce fossil fuel inputs and related emissions across the industry.
“In the long run, the company is working to prevent ripped shingles from ending up in landfills at all,” says GAF.
The GAF research team is also looking at how the process can be applied to other asphalt products used in the automotive industry, waterproofing and more.
“If this is successfully scaled up, it has the potential to create a circular economy for asphalt in general, not just roofing,” the company says.
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Source: Durability times