A multinational team led by RENOLIT ALKORPLAN roofing products replaced 11,000 square metres of PVC membrane from the roof of an exhibition centre and delivered them to a recycling facility in Germany. Compared to incineration, the economic savings reached 33% and the savings of CO2 emissions 97%.
Recycling the old synthetic membrane of a roof brings environmental and economic benefits. Even if the recycling facility is not located right next to the roof.
This is the teaching that comes from Tampere, Finland, where 11,000 square metres of old PVC membranes from the roof of an event centre were cut into small pieces, transported to Germany and recycled for other uses in construction.
The project involved RENOLIT ALKORPLAN roofing products together with the installer Suomen Teollisuuskatot Oy, a company recognized on the market for being a PVC specialist and for the ability to manage complex projects, and Ekopartnerit Turku Oy, a company specialising in waste management, recycling and special transport.
The operation was carried out through ESWA and the RoofCollect project, a European initiative founded by manufacturers – including RENOLIT – to recycle synthetic PVC waterproof membranes. Built in 1985, one of the buildings in the multifunctional centre of Tampere needed a new roof.
A delicate operation, since the construction is a long arched wooden nave with very steep sides. It was necessary to proceed in stages, removing small portions of the membrane and immediately replacing them with the RENOLIT ALKORPLAN F membrane. However, the old cut membranes were not disposed of in landfills or incinerated, as it is customary in Finland, but after being cut and packaged, they were transported to a recycling plant in Saxony, Germany, about two thousand kilometres away.
Specific studies have shown that this was the best solution, both environmentally and economically. Jennifer Che, Sustainability Manager at RENOLIT ALKORPLAN roofing products, has shown, numbers in hand, that transporting PVC to be recycled has a much lower climate impact (97% of CO2 emissions saved than incinerating it).
The CO2 emissions saved are more than 57,000kg, equivalent to the emissions of a passenger on 57 Paris-New York flights or the emissions of two people in their entire lives. Some 160 trees would have to be planted to absorb this amount of CO2.
Moreover, according to the calculations made by Tomi Norrby, the owner of Suomen Teollisuuskatot Oy, the recycling operation was also economically advantageous. The total recycling cost was lower than either alternatives of landfill transfer (-1%) and incineration (-33%!).
Tomi claims: “The first PVC roofs are now 35-40 years old, they need to be replaced, and the recycling of these roofs will hopefully increase over the years.
“We will definitely continue recycling. It makes no sense to burn or landfill the old roofs. They get a new life as a new product.”
Bernard Merkx, Managing Director of ESWA and RoofCollect, adds: “The Tampere project is a good example where the roofer has taken the initiative to make the difference. It could have gone to the incinerators but decided to go through mechanical recycling.
“Whatever we can make now can be recycled again in twenty years or thirty years from now, so we keep the materials in the loop. That’s the key message.”
The multinational team led by RENOLIT ALKORPLAN roofing products has shown to the world that recycling PVC is always the best solution for the environment and also for one’s pocket.
Watch the video here.
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