LEXINGTON, Ky. — Lendlease, Rubicon Technologies Inc., Mycocycle, and Rockwood Sustainable Solutions announced the completion of a partnered pilot involving used asphalt shingles, mushrooms and mycoremediation technology to reduce construction and demolition waste in order to produce a sustainable and reusable product to create a more circular economy.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 11 to 13 million tons of asphalt shingles end up in landfills each year, where they take upwards of 300 years to break down. After seeing the large percentage of waste that was generated by used asphalt roofing shingles from a recent reroofing project at their Fort Campbell Army installation in Kentucky, Lendlease, Rubicon, Mycocycle and Rockwood Sustainable Solutions proposed a solution to reuse the material in a new capacity.
"Every asphalt shingle from those 214 homes would have gone to a landfill," said Sara Neff, head of sustainability at Lendlease Americas. "There was simply no viable use for them. We understand the importance of reducing our Scope 3 carbon by diverting waste streams from the landfill. After teaming up with Rubicon, Mycocycle, and Rockwood Sustainable Solutions, we came up with an innovative idea using mycoremediation technology; combining mushrooms and shingles to break down waste materials and create a new by-product that could ideally be reintroduced for reuse, furthering a circular economy."
Shingle samples were gathered and transported to Rockwood Sustainable Solutions’ facility in Lebanon, Tenn., where Mycocycle, an environmental remediation company that uses fungi to decarbonize waste streams, performed what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind pilot study, mixing the sample with three strains of fungi, a process called mycoremediation.
"Using mycoremediation to process waste so as to be further recycled and form part of the circular economy is its highest use," said Joanne Rodriguez, founder and CEO of Mycocycle. "Our mycelium recycling pilots continue to see excellent results among a wide range of materials, and I’m excited to see where our work, in partnership with Lendlease, Rubicon, and Rockwood Sustainable Solutions, takes us."
Nate Morris, chairman and CEO of Rubicon, said the successful completion of this pilot is an example of environmental innovation in action.
“Rubicon’s mission is to end waste, and it is innovations such as these that find second life circular solutions for hard-to-recycle materials," said Morris. "Partnerships, like this one between Rubicon, Lendlease, Mycocycle, and Rockwood Sustainable Solutions are possible when environmental innovation and the circular economy meet.”
Neff said that of the 11 to 13 million tons of asphalt shingles dumped in landfills each year, only 5-10% are being recycled. She said the successful partnership can serve as a template for the future for other companies.
"Taking a product that is no longer viable and combining it with a natural renewable source that results in a new product is a phenomenal outcome that is both beneficial to the environment and bolsters the economy," said Neff. "We are proud of this pilot and our future partnerships with Rubicon, Rockwood Sustainable Solutions, and Mycocycle."
Alexandra Ewing of Lendlease, Chris Batterson of Rubicon, Lincoln Young of Rockwood Sustainable Solutions, and Rodriguez of Mycocycle will be hosting a session on the results of this project, titled “Forging a Truly Circular Economy for Toxic C&D Materials,” at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo on Nov. 1, 2022 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
Additionally, the team is looking to manufacturers across the building industry and encouraging them to continue to focus on the impact these new materials can have on reducing emissions while making our supply chain more sustainable.