What’s the world’s most recycled material?
Quick quiz: what’s the most recycled material in the US? A report from the Federal Highway Administration shows that 80 percent of the asphalt pavement that’s removed each year during widening and resurfacing projects is reused. That is substantially higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s recycling rates of 60 percent for aluminum cans, 56 percent for newsprint, 37 percent for plastic soft drink bottles, 31 percent for glass beverage bottles and 23 percent for magazines (the pure tonnage of asphalt recycled is impressive too: 90 million tons). Asphalt is so widely recycled because it makes good economic sense and the infrastructure is well developed. In the same way, I think we’re going to see recycling rates for all the above materials continue to go up as their value continues to increase and collection improves. The demand is there. Recycled newsprint is in short supply, as is recycled cardboard. New processing and sorting technologies are increasing the value of all kinds of trash. As consumers, we demand recycled content, and that is making a difference.
At GAF, one of our primary raw materials for shingles is asphalt, and asphalt shingles can improve the properties of roads, so we’re a key part of that success story. I recycled a tear-off from my own home – and no, you don’t have to separate out the nails! Just keep flashing, wood, and mastic separate from the shingles, to make it easier for the recyclers. They have magnets that pull out the nails – and those get recycled too (but not into roads, thankfully).