Changing your roof tiles is one of the most significant renovations you can do. More so because your roof has to endure all weather elements (rain, hail, snow, heat), to conserve heat energy from your house and to top it all (pun not intended), it's quite visible. Therefore, once you decide to change your roof tiles, it is crucial to choose a material that is durable and energy-efficient.
Considering the importance of saving the environment, one of the essential qualities you should look for in selecting the material for your roof tiles is to be environmentally friendly. By that, we don't mean just traits of raw material and the way it is processed, but also the performance of the roof over its working life, and the way it's disposed of once it served its purpose. Also, most of the roof materials are very much recyclable. The purpose of this article is presenting the best roofing materials that are also recyclable.
Clay and Concrete
Clay, or terra cotta, is very durable, heavy and expensive, Clay tiles are made from natural clay which is shaped and fired like ceramic tiles. Some of them get a unique overlay of glaze or paint. On the other hand, concrete roofing tiles are highly energy intensive to produce, and their production creates quite a CO2 footprint, so it’s not the greenest material there is.
Concrete is also pretty heavy and sometimes requires additional framing of the roof, but also very brittle. Clay and concrete tiles are mineral based.
Therefore they can be easily recycled. Clay is 100% recyclable and can be used time and again. Even if tiles end up on landfills, they don’t release any harmful materials into the ground.
Metal roofs are very energy-demanding to produce, but they are nice-looking and very durable. Furthermore, they contain a high amount of recycled content, or they can be easily recyclable after use. Although metal roofs have some reflective qualities, they have to undergo proper insulation because the metal is highly heat-conductive.
Like clay and concrete, metal is 100% recyclable, and high reusability value applies to most metal roofing materials, which are Galvalume®, galvanised, aluminium, copper, zinc, and stainless steel. Among them, aluminium is the material that has the most significant chance of being from previously recycled metals, the whole 95%
Copper roofs have been used for more than 2000 years, and they are still favoured among people who prefer luxurious and durable material to cover their home with. Copper roof experts claim copper is way superior compared to steel because it's lighter, more malleable and easier to shape. Copper also doesn't require a lot of maintenance, because it’s resistant to corrosion and doesn't need any coating surface to protect it, unlike steel.
Downsides of copper are the higher price, noise issues and volume shifts during weather changes. However, the advantages of copper substantially compensate for all the flaws.
Asphalt shingles are by far the most popular roofing material because they are inexpensive and easy to install. For a long time, there was a common misconception that asphalt shingles could not be recycled, because they were made from fossil fuels, and they are an oil-based product. Therefore, at the end of the life cycle, asphalt shingles were disposed of as regular trash and started to pile up in landfills.
Asphalt shingles usually take around 300 years to completely breakdown, and there's an abundance of them in the landfills all over the world. Fortunately, the efforts toward conservation resulted in finding a method of sustainable recycling of asphalt shingles. There are specialised recycling centres, where singles are processed and made into the pavement, covers for ground and new shingles.
EPDM is an acronym for ethylene propylene diene monomer, which is a synthetic rubber. We can usually find it on low slope or flat roofs, which are frequent in commercial structures. Because of lower cost, easy installation and lightweight properties, EPDM grew popular in the past few decades.
Until 2006, EPDM tiles were practically unable to recycle, which resulted by many of them ending up in landfills. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of ERA, the method is found, and a considerable amount of EPDM tiles was recycled in the meantime. Similar to asphalt tiles, some contractors aren't aware that EPDM tiles can be recycled since the education of companies on that matter is still ongoing.
Changing the roof tiles is a severe undertaking, and one cannot be careful enough in choosing the right material. Considering the planet is gradually burdened by trash, it's imperative to pick materials able to reuse, reduce and recycle. Thanks to the advancement of processing and recycle technology, some elements that were considered impossible to recycle are now recyclable, such as asphalt and EPDM. That gives potential buyers more versatility in choosing the right option for their roofs.