Roofing and waterproofing manufacturer GAF has created the first asphalt shingles made from recycled content—but that's just the beginning, the company says.
The patented shingle-recycling process takes shingle material from consumers and manufacturers poised for landfills and creates new shingles. GAF claims it's an industry first and that the recycled shingles do not sacrifice quality or performance. The process remains in a pilot phase.
“This latest innovation from GAF represents the first major step towards a circular economy for asphalt roofing shingles,” says Jim Schnepper, president of GAF. “We envision a future where every homeowner, when replacing their roof, can do so with high-quality, affordable shingles made with recycled asphalt.”
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The introduction comes at a time when Americans are becoming increasingly interested in sustainability. As a result, numerous manufacturers have stated their commitment to creating more eco-friendly products.
GAF says 90% of wasted shingle materials were used in the manufacturing of new shingles. New shingles contain up to 15% of the recycled material, and the company received three separate patents on its recycling process.
Each year, 13 million tons of asphalt materials are stripped off homes in preparation for new roofing, according to GAF. Of the 13 million tons, 10% is recycled for paving and other roadway projects, leaving 12 million tons sent to landfills. And asphalt is specifically designed to withstand the harshest elements, resulting in a difficult material to break down.
“This innovation has the potential to reduce a significant waste stream in the U.S. and represents an important advance within the roofing industry,” says Tad Radzinski, certification officer for GreenCircle Certified, a third-party certification organization. "Through the recovery of valuable end-of-life roofing materials, GAF is setting the course to reduce environmental impacts across the shingle product life cycle and provide a truly circular, sustainable solution for roofing products.”
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GAF’s new goal for a circular economy is to one day have the majority of new shingles created from recycled materials because virtually all shingles can be recycled through GAF’s process, the company says.
The asphalt shingle recycling process includes grinding old shingles into a refined material and reintroducing it into the manufacturing process, writes GAF. The recycled shingles have been UL-certified for safety and effectiveness.
As for the future of the product, the company says it's already working on ways to use more than 15% of recycled shingle materials in new shingle manufacturing. And the process will hopefully one day work with all asphalt applications. GAF has already committed $100 million to expand its impact by bringing the concept to a commercial scale.