As construction demand increases with our plastic consumption, using recycled plastic solves two problems at once.
As the US economy starts to grow in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, construction demand is continuing to go up. In fact, even before the pandemic, in the early months of 2020, construction spending was increasing at a level not seen since before the 2008 recession. Now, with our economy, our people, our hospitals, and our nation in recovery, things are expected to continue to improve. Adding the ongoing housing boom to the pandemic recovery, construction added 110,000 jobs in March, and has recovered more than 80% of the jobs lost since the beginning of the pandemic.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic shook the very foundation of much of the economy. Supply chains were interrupted by factory shutdowns. Workers and construction contractors were laid-off or fired. Construction felt this squeeze most of all. One of the toughest hurdles to overcome in the construction industry is the supply chain bottleneck.
2 Problems, 1 Solution
Fortunately, a new development in roofing is solving 2 problems for us at once.
1) The massive amount of plastic waste produced in the last several decades.
2) Supply chain stoppages and keeping construction supply up with demand.
How do recycled plastic roof tiles work?
They are made with 30% plastic waste, and 70% sand. The material is separated into hard and soft plastic materials, cut into small pieces, and melted. The mixture is then blended with sand, colored, and melted again. After which, it is molded into tiles and cooled into its final form.
Benefits of recycled plastic roof tiles include:
- Longer lifespan than metal roofing.
- No asbestos padding required.
- Can survive falls.
- Does not absorb moisture.
- Easy to clean.
- Sand negates the risk of microplastics breaking away and harmfully entering the environment.
- Because plastics are so hard to destroy, they plastic roofing is extremely durable, and can survive in harsher environments than many kinds of traditional roofing.
Read the full list of benefits of recycled plastic roof tiles here.
The supply chain can help supply keep up with demand
Using recycled plastics, roofing contractors no longer have to rely on specialized manufacturers. Asphalt, shingle, and roofing adhesives manufacturers are still necessary, but not to the degree they once were. In fact, some materials, like asbestos can be eschewed altogether using recycled plastic. Our world is awash in plastic waste, so it’s no problem for commercial contractors just about anywhere on Earth to find plastic. Plastic finds its way to dumps, the ocean, and pretty much everywhere else in human life these days. When the supply chain doesn’t bottleneck construction, workers can keep up with demand, be more productive, and just get more done.
The demand for plastic roofing tiles is expected to grow tremendously this year. In fact, it’s expected to reach 35.6 million square miles in 2021. The demand will grow for multiple reasons, not limited only to the COVID recovery:
- Availability of easy to self-install membranes.
- Environmental concerns and the desire to use light-colored roofing materials. (Which reflect sunlight back out of the atmosphere, negating some of the warming of the greenhouse effect.)
- Growing consumer knowledge of and interest in membrane recycled plastic roofing.
The construction industry already has a big problem with demand and supply. For years now, there haven’t been enough skilled construction workers to keep up with demand for work. The industry needs any help it can get keeping up with demand for new construction, particularly housing.
The environmental and human factor
By now, you’ve surely heard of the pacific garbage patch. It is composed of two main gyres, or cyclonic rotating water patches laden with plastic, one in the Western Pacific, one in the Eastern Pacific. In-between, is a subtropical convergence zone where the plastics from different continents meet. In the US alone, the vast majority of plastics go into landfills. In 2018, over 26 million tons of plastic went into landfills, while about 3 million tons were recycled.
The problem with throwing away plastics is that they never really go away. They break down into smaller and smaller particles, called microplastics. These microplastics have been discovered throughout the world now, where they wreak havoc. Some of their effects include:
- Poisoning and killing fish, sea mammals, and sea birds, such as the Albatross.
- Providing floating rafts for the spread of invasive marine species.
- A chemical called bisphenol that’s been found in all parts of human biology – including mothers’ milk. Is lowering human sperm counts and causing infertility.
- Early puberty in girls due to phthalate exposure. Phthalates are toxic chemicals which come from PVC plastics.
- Human endocrine system interference thanks to the pervasiveness of microplastics
Much more research is needed to fully understand what the effects of microplastics are on the human body. These chemicals have only been permeating our environment and ourselves for a short period of time, and we don’t fully understand them.
Needless to say, the fact that plastics are everywhere is bad for all of us, not just environmentalists. The ability to use plastics as a functional and permanent/semi-permanent solution is a key development. It lets us solve the problem of removing plastics from the environment. In doing so, construction contractors can make a profit, people can get a service product they want, and harmful plastics can be made less harmful.
Roofing Done Right
If you are looking for quality roofing by a company who stays on top of the newest and best developments in construction, we’ve got you covered. Reliable Commercial Construction is a full-service construction company based out of Arlington Texas. We have a team of over 200, and 35-plus years of experience. No project is too big, too complex, or beyond us. Contact us today about our environmentally friendly policies, and how we can get your building done for you.