So, the big question is, “Can you recycle a metal roof?”. A metal roof can last longer than the house it covers. If you are in a position where you are replacing your metal roof, you may be interested in the recyclability of your metal roof. The durability of a metal roof and its ease of recycling are important considerations when purchasing new roofing materials. Most manufacturers offer recycling programs for their products once they reach end-of-life and need to be disposed of responsibly. In general, most residential metals have similar recycling processes due to common characteristics like high iron content and easy recovery of raw materials. Roofing metals can usually be recycled as follows:
Copper is a corrosion-resistant, ductile metal that has been used for roofing since antiquity. It’s also a great conductor of heat, making it a top choice for roofing systems that rely on passive cooling. The concentrate of copper mining is extremely toxic, and the production process requires a large amount of energy. Because of this, the recycling rate of copper is very high. Copper roofing is expensive due to the price of copper as a raw material. If you are replacing your copper roof, make sure your contractor recycles the material.
Aluminium is the most abundant metal on earth, and you’ve likely encountered it in your daily life in a number of ways. It’s very lightweight and easy to work with, and it’s been the roofing material of choice for high-end builders for decades. Aluminium roofing is easy to recycle, and the process is both cheap and energy efficient. Aluminum is also 100% recyclable, something that is not true for any other roofing material. Aluminium costs more up front than other roofing materials, but it also has the highest expected lifespan.
Galvanized steel is steel that has been electroplated with zinc for additional corrosion resistance. Traditionally, most roofing systems relied on galvanized steel for their long lifespan and durability. In recent years, however, the price of zinc has become increasingly high, and many roofing manufacturers have started using alternative materials. Because of its low price, galvanized steel is still one of the most widely used roofing materials; however, it is often not recycled because of its low value as a commodity. Galvanized steel is a great roofing material, but be aware if it needs to be recycled, it will be a challenge.
Brass and bronze
Brass and bronze are both copper alloys with zinc and other trace metals added. Both materials have a very long history of use in roofing, often as shingles or tiles. Because they are mixed with copper, they are not as easy to recycle as pure zinc, which means that they are not as widely used in roofing products. If you’re considering a brass or bronze roofing product, be aware that it will require a more challenging recycling process than other metals.
Metal Roofing Supply Chains and Key Vendors
Manufacturers of metal roofing typically source their raw materials from local suppliers or other countries. They then process the raw materials and fabricate the metal roofing products at their production facilities. Depending on the type of metal roofing product you purchase, it may be delivered to you in sheets or panels. Distributors buy the metal roofing products from the manufacturers and then sell them to builders, roofing contractors, and homeowners. They may collect orders from a number of customers and then purchase the metal roofing products from the manufacturers and deliver them to their customers.
Stainless steel is a low-corrosion, high-alloy steel alloy that has a high resistance to harsh weathering and temperature variations. Because it is a high-end material, stainless steel is not commonly used in residential roofing products. However, it has the distinct advantage of being 100% recyclable. If you’re ever in a situation where a stainless steel roof needs to be recycled, it will be an easy process. Of course, stainless steel is also a more expensive option for roofing products.
Other specialty metals
Copper-plated zinc. This is a low-cost zinc-based alloy that can be recycled like copper. Copper-coated steel. A low-cost steel alloy that is also recyclable. Granule-bound shingles. These are a mix of recycled materials and asphalt, making them very easy to recycle.
The lifespan of a roof will depend on the type of roofing material used. Asphalt shingles usually last 20 years, while metal roofs can last up to 50 years. While roofing materials are often recyclable, some roofing products are easier to recycle than others. Metal roofs are some of the easiest roofing products to recycle. Copper, aluminum, and galvanized steel roofing materials can all be recycled at any local foundry or scrapyard.