For more than 50 years, durable PVC roofing membranes have cooled and protected buildings in climates around the world. Their long life cycle has helped earn them excellent ANSI ratings for sustainability (to date, PVC materials are the only products to be rated gold or platinum). But there’s more. PVC roofing is the only commercial roofing material that is being recycled, at the end of decades of service life, into the feedstock to make new roofing membranes.
PVC has an inherent advantage over many other roofing materials when it comes to recycling. As a thermoplastic, it can readily be heated and reprocessed without loss of key physical properties. Thus, it has long been an industry best practice to reintroduce production trimmings and scrap as raw materials into vinyl roofing membrane manufacturing processes. In 2021, the member manufacturers of the Chemical Fabrics & Film Association (CFFA) Vinyl Roofing Division recycled a combined 20.5 million pounds of pre-consumer materials.
The Vinyl Roofing Division has a new white paper covering the topic, “Avoiding the Landfill: The Recycling of PVC Roof Membranes,” available for download on its website. Focusing on post-consumer recycling, this paper examines the evolution and current state of commercial PVC roof membranes as a sustainable building product at the end of its service life.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, construction and demolition waste from buildings totals an estimated 332 billion pounds annually. Skyrocketing raw material costs, higher landfill tipping fees, legislation to restrict disposal of construction materials, and an architectural community that demands the lightest environmental footprint that can be achieved, have led to the mainstreaming of post-consumer recycling and a vision of the day when specifiers will routinely call for post-consumer content in a roof membrane.
In 2021, some participating manufacturers of CFFA’s Vinyl Roofing Division recycled a combined 758 thousand pounds of membranes at the end of their service lives. These were reprocessed into either new PVC roofing membranes (closed loop recycling) or other non-roofing products such as flooring (open loop recycling).
For more information on the benefits of cool PVC roofing, visit https://vinylroofs.org/.