Green Rubber: Recycling EPDM Rubber Roofs

men fixing the roofConservation has become an issue of top concern these days, and many people are making purchasing decisions based on how products affect the environment. Recent surveys conducted in the America and UK reveal that 71% of consumers think about the environment when they shop, a five-percentage point increase from 2008.

Almost half of those respondents (45%) say they actively search for environmental information about the products they buy, including those they use in their homes.

A roofing membrane isn’t the first thing that comes to mind whenever someone thinks of products that may have an effect on the environment. But, EPDM industry forged ahead and initialised a program to make their products more eco-friendly.

Road to Recycling

Estimates suggested that more than a billion square feet of EPDM rubber roofing were installed in the last 40 years. The continuous rise in the use of the flat roof membrane will inevitably lead to a rise of used rubber roofs that need to be replaced as their lifetimes expire.

In order to keep these membranes out of the dump, the EPDM industry decided to implement a recycling program that companies could quickly deploy in order to re-use the material they replaced. The solution is the same type of procedure used to make rubber shingles from run down car tires.

How it’s Done

The raw EPDM is cleaned thoroughly to remove contaminants that may interfere with the rubber’s future mixture. Machines cut the product into narrow strips, and roll them into thick cylinders. These cylinders are ground into various sizes of powder.

The powder could be used to create other rubber products such as shingles, or as part of a new batch of a rubber membrane.

This means that an EPDM roof can potentially be of use for as long as possible. As old sheets are recycled to make new sheets with little else added to the process, the EPDM rubber roof industry could potentially run forever. The definition of recycling is to keep using materials with as little waste as possible, and nothing can epitomise that more than the process that rubber roofs go through to gain new life.

Resources:

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/motivates-consumers-environmental-ethical-decisions
http://www.rubber4roofs.co.uk/EPDM-Rubber-Flat-Roofs/One-Piece-EPDM
http://greenbuildingelements.com/2011/02/23/recycled-rubber-roofs-cheap-and-eco-friendly/