Common organic roofing materials such as wood fiberboard insulation and perlite insulation can be recycled easily, yet the practice of roof product recycling can be costly and difficult due to limited recycling centers in centralized locations.
All recyclable materials have common characteristics including the ability to be easily re-introduced and processed into a new product and the ability to be easily separated from other additives and ingredients. These characteristics are more easily attained with thermoplastic or organic materials. Roof product recycling can be successfully achieved using these types of materials.
Roof product recycling is more cost effective with a thermoplastic material which does not undergo a molecular cross-linking. It remains in a state that allows it to be fused and formed with the introduction of heat and pressure. Roof product recycling can be achieved using such thermoplastic roofing materials such as:
- EPDM - Uncured
Roof product recycling is more challenging with thermoset materials in which molecules have cross-linked meaning they cannot be easily separated. The process of cross-linking, known as curing or vulcanization, permanently sets the physical properties in the material. Recycling a thermoset material includes a complex method of grinding up the material into smaller particles then dispersing them into a polymeric matrix to be recycled. Examples of common thermoset roofing materials include EPDM Roofing and Polyisocyanurate Insulation. Roof product recycling of thermoset materials is more costly.
Characteristics of Recyclable Materials
Ability to be easily re-introduced and processed into a new product Easily separated from other additives and ingredients Easier to accomplish with thermoplastic materials or organic materials
Because thermoplastic materials are not molecularly cross-linked allowing them to be reformed with the introduction of heat and pressure. Thermoset materials, by contrast, cannot be easily re-used once their molecules have cross-linked. That means that thermoset materials must be ground up into small particles and dispersed in a polymeric matrix to be recycled.
What is a Thermoplastic Material?
It is a material that does not undergo a molecular cross-linking and remains in a state that allows it to be fused and formed into alternative shapes and forms through the application of heat and pressure.
Thermoset materials go through a process that results in cross-linking of molecules (also called “curing” or “vulcanization”) that permanently sets the physical properties in the material. Examples of common thermoset roofing materials include EPDM and polyisocyanurate insulation.