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From waste to black gold - 100% reuse of roofing felt

Denne idé er en del af The Circular Construction Challenge – Rethink Waste

Cecilie Fernandez
Cecilie Fernandez
28. september 2018

Circular solution

Tarpaper Recycling (TRA) has a unique business concept and a well-established production of recycled bitumen granules, which is gradually gaining acceptance by the road asphalt industry. However, TRA’s very strong value proposition at the collecting point of the roofing felt waste - provided by a 20% lower cost vs. landfilling and incineration – has led to a strong acceleration of roofing felt waste storage, which is currently characterized by a production surplus. This opens the potential to target its re-valorization and upcycling through extraction of liquid oil. Upcycling will allow to simultaneously double the economic potential of roofing felt waste, while the use of upcycled oils further upstream in oil-based value chains further contributes to establishing a real circular business model.

By combining technology developed for production of bitumen granules and for high temperature no-emission oil extraction we will develop a prototype of a Waste to Oil (WtO) plant to produce upcycled oil products for use in production of new roofing felt, asphalt roads and as fuel. This way a complete circular solution is ensured – roofing felt waste can be turned into granules for direct use in asphalt production as well as for extraction of liquid oil to be reused as component in new roofing felt and asphalt or fuel.

The overall goal of the present project is to further improve the unique business concept for a circular solution for roofing felt waste, by further upcycling roofing felt waste through a high temperature WtO plant. This will allow to increase the economic value extracted from roofing felt waste, while simultaneously further increasing the circularity of the unique business concept. Hereto, the project aims at introducing a plant to process bitumen granules to extract higher value oil raw components, that can be used upstream as raw materials in diverse industries.

The new upcycled oils and innovative recycling technology have a green profile. The upcycled oil products will be a commercial product and can be sold at a lower price than the international market price for virgin oil products. The new solution thus aims at introducing turn-key plants to the EU and globally ensuring a full use of the millions of tons of roofing felt waste produced annually. With the green profile of the oil and the innovative recycling technology, they will have competitive advantages ensuring a position in the market and contributing to a zero-waste Europe.

Value creation

We will create value for all stakeholders from the end-user to the society at large:

The end-user of the recycled oil will have large savings on raw material and production costs and will enhance their green profile.

The planet will benefit from a reduction of CO2 emissions and that larger amounts of fossil fuel will be kept in the ground.

Society at large will get a green solution that is available to all and access to a green oil product at lower prices than conventional products as well as seeing a reduction of the amount of construction waste.

Great market potential
The initial commercial activities will focus on the Danish market, but as soon as the concept is running, other European markets will be targeted starting in Finland, Sweden and Germany (where TRA already operates). Moreover, and due to the geographical proximity, the BeNeLux region will also be exploited.

In EU, 2 million tons of bituminous felt roofing waste are produced yearly, with Scandinavia accounting for approximately 50,000 tons (Denmark Without Waste 2013). Here the ambition is to recycle 80% of all waste (40,000 tons) by 2025, which is a reasonable expectation since TRA already collects and processes around 20,000 tons of roofing felt waste. TRA is in the process of installing 6 plants in Germany for production of roofing felt granules and they are expected to reach a peak processing power of 90,000 tons of roofing felt waste per year by 2025, which corresponds to approx. 30% of the 300.000 tons of roofing felt waste estimated to be produced yearly in the Germany-BeNeLux area.

To exploit the technology in the rest of Europe and overseas, it would be possible to license the WtO plant. Considering the USA and Canada alone, we conservatively estimate that at least 10 plants could be sold until 2025, yielding an input capacity equal to ~0.9% of the yearly roofing felt waste in this region (~8mn tons of roofing waste, Athena Institute 2007). Previous experiences in the TRA company group with dissemination of circular solutions internationally (see e.g. www.gipsymrecycling.biz, which operates in 7 countries) will provide a solid foundation for entry for the new innovative solution into the international market.

Co-creation and competencies

TRA has a collaboration with a Danish machine manufacturer, who has experience in building high temperature plants and other large-scale industrial plants. The combination of our respective expertise in machine construction and waste handling constitutes a solid ground for this development project.  

To finish the design and construct the prototype of the high temperature WtO plant we need mechanical and technical engineers. Furthermore, to ensure the right quality of the oil we need specialized knowledge from chemists and fuel experts.

As a SME we often lack resources – with regards to time, finances and specific expertise to finalize our innovative development projects. We therefore hope to get relevant input and specialized knowledge from experts and financial support to construct a prototype as well as access to new networks and marketing channels.