Using Recycled Milk Jugs and Wood Waste to Roof Building

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Thanks to PATH-funded technology, a public park in Wisconsin has a 2,000 square foot service center for campers that features a panelized roofing system made from a composite of recycled milk jugs, waste sawdust, and other natural fibers. This roof will help demonstrate the potential of using waste wood, fiber, and plastic destined for the landfill in a value-added building product. The USDA Forest Products Laboratory (Madison, Wisconsin) and Teel-Global Resource Technologies (T-GRT) (Baraboo, Wisconsin) developed this new roofing system.

A panelized roofing system is an ideal application for this recycled composite because (1) the panels can be easily molded to match traditional roofing profiles, such as cedar shakes, Spanish tiles, or slate, and (2) the aesthetic nature of the panelized system provides an opportunity to showcase recycled material in a product that looks expensive but costs much less than the traditional product it replaces.

Compared with existing manufactured roofing systems, initial evaluation of this composite roofing system indicates several advantages:

  • Low Cost: Using recycled materials and a shorter molding time, these composite roof panels can be manufactured at a cost substantially less than clay, slate, or fiberglass.
  • Fully Recyclable: Scrap from manufacture or the material from panels that are trimmed during installation can be remolded into new roof panels.
  • Dimensional Stability: Thermal expansion and contraction are significantly reduced relative to available plastic roof panels.
  • Ease of Use: Conventional woodworking tools can be used to trim the panels during installation, and there is virtually no breakage.
  • Labor Savings: The recycled composite roofing system is easy to install. Highly trained installers are not needed.
  • Lighter Weight: The recycled composite roofing system is lighter in weight than clay or concrete tiles, resulting in reduced transportation costs and structural requirements for roof framing.

T-GRT manufactured the roofing system materials used on the campground service center, and controlled weather-exposure testing for this application is being performed at the Forest Products Laboratory. Durability monitoring of the campground service center roof will be conducted for 2 years. The information collected will be used to further quantify labor and cost savings, ease of construction, and waste generated compared with conventional materials.

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