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Roofing Made from Recycled Plastic?

RCS Capri Sun
July 28, 2021 at 9:00 a.m.

By Trent Cotney, Cotney Attorneys & Consultants. 

As we navigate the current materials crisis, the need for recycling roofing materials has become increasingly more important. 

We are all familiar with roofs made from metal, tile and standard shingles. And we are seeing an increased interest in solar shingles and green roofs. But have you heard of roofs composed of recycled plastic? 

In February 2021, Kraft Heinz announced that in late 2020 the company had installed new roofs made from recycled plastic on company facilities located in Holland, Michigan and Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. This effort was part of a pilot project illustrating the use of recycled plastic roof boards. The company was collaborating with Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF), a nonprofit that promotes the idea that flexible plastic packaging can be collected, sorted, baled and recycled in an economically and technically feasible manner.  

Materials used 

The recycled roofing was constructed of four-foot by eight-foot boards, and 94% of each board was created from post-consumer recycled fiber and plastic. Since Kraft Heinz uses flexible plastic packaging in many of its products, supporting this recycling demonstration was important to the company. In the months and years to come, Kraft Heinz will monitor the roofs and compare the recycled material’s performance to conventional building materials. The company will also report its findings to the Association of Plastic Recyclers Demand Champion program. 

The problem with plastic 

Food manufacturers rely on flexible plastic for their packaging, but this material can be challenging to recycle. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 14.5 million tons of plastic packaging were produced in 2018, but more than two-thirds of that ended up in landfills. 

Promising future 

If the recycled roofing material proves to be as effective and durable as traditional roofing materials, that could be a significant development. Kraft Heinz has several sustainability goals, including making all its packaging 100% compostable, reusable, or recyclable by 2025. If this roofing experiment is successful, the company could use the recycled material more regularly and renovate its manufacturing facilities worldwide. 

In addition, other companies could look to this project as proof that recycled plastic can be used for industrial roofing materials. It may help offer solutions for recycling plastic and result in a new type of strong, weatherproof roofing material.  

According to Susan Graff, vice president of resource recycling systems and MRFF research director, “This Kraft Heinz project is a powerful example of environmental stewardship, reducing use of virgin materials by choosing roofing material made of recycled flexible plastic packaging. Working with recyclers, they’ve provided a model for addressing expectations for full life-cycle management of plastic while using an efficient, low-cost package for consumer product protection.” 

As we navigate the current materials crisis, the need for recycling roofing materials has become increasingly more important. With the unavailability of materials expected to continue into 2022, the use of plastics and other readily available material may present the possibility of a future solution to meet the increased demand. 

Learn more about Cotney Attorneys & Consultants in their RoofersCoffeeShop® Directory or visit www.cotneycl.com. 

About Trent Cotney 

Trent Cotney, CEO of Cotney Attorneys & Consultants, is a lawyer and advocate for the roofing industry. He serves as General Counsel for NRCA, CRCA, WSCRCA, FRSA and many other national and regional trade associations. For more information on this topic, please visit www.cotneycl.com



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