Deconstructing a circular economy for building materials

Players in the construction and demolition industry make connections at CEDC stakeholder meeting

(Longmont, Colo.) — Construction companies, recyclers, manufacturers, and local governments gathered at the Circular Economy Development Center’s recent stakeholder meeting April 30 to find circular economy solutions for construction and demolition materials since the most common end-of-life solution for many of these materials is the landfill.

One material receiving attention from local groups is asphalt shingles. Recycling asphalt shingles requires specialized equipment and processes to separate the asphalt, fiberglass, and other materials. This can be more complex and costly compared to recycling single-material items like cardboard or aluminum. CertainTeed, a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, one of the world’s largest and oldest building products companies, has a process to pelletize ground shingles so that they can be stored and more easily reused to create asphalt paving.

“Shingles and pavement are made of the same materials, asphalt and rock,” said Maure Creager, circular economy and product stewardship manager at CertainTeed. “By working together and breaking down barriers, we can prevent asphalt shingles from ending in landfill, while creating a circular approach to road paving.“

CertainTeed’s process could be of use to local communities and organizations looking to meet sustainability goals.

Another major construction material is wood waste, which is generated during construction and during deconstruction. Untreated wood waste can be chipped for mulch or used for biomass energy production. Dimensional lumber, plywood, and wood pallets can be salvaged for reuse. Local company Perks Deconstruction can disassemble a wood frame garage in one to two days and divert 90 percent of the materials. “Usually, it’s just shingles that go in the trash,” said owner and founder Anna Perks.

“Our stakeholder meetings are all about making connections within and among industries,” said Laurie Johnson, director of the Circular Economy Development Center. “Communication is key as we work to transform linear consumption models into circular economies.”

Meeting attendees left with an open invitation from the CEDC to continue to participate moving forward.