Business example: Tarpaper Recycling utilises old roofing felt in asphalt production

Used roofing felt can be used as a raw material for asphalt production. Photo: Tarpaper Recycling Finland Oy

Tarpaper Recycling Finland Oy is a greentech company established in 2013. The company has created an industrial process where used roofing felt can be used as a raw material for asphalt production. Due to its high bitumen content, roofing felt is an ideal raw material for asphalt. The business idea originated from company owner’s research in relation to demolition work business in Denmark. Roofing felt makes up 1-3 % of demolition waste. Normally used roofing felt is incinerated or taken to landfill, although as of 2016, new landfill regulations in Finland forbid taking it to landfill.

Recycling used roofing felt saves energy and resources

Tarpaper Recycling collects roofing felt waste from waste management companies, demolition worksites, roof contractors, and roofing felt manufacturers all around Finland. The quality of both received and produced material is closely monitored with respective guidelines and sampling tests. Tarpaper Recycling processes roofing felt into new raw material for asphalt production. The name of the end product is BitumenMix and it can replace approximately one third of the virgin bitumen needed to manufacture asphalt. With BitumenMix, 60 kilograms of CO2 are saved per every produced ton of asphalt. The end product is closely to asphalt made of virgin material and its perseverance is high due to its material tenacity.

Used roofing felt at Kujala in Finland. Photo: Tarpaper Recycling Finland Oy

Kymenlaakso Jäte Oy aims to promote the circular economy and we have demanded the use of recycled raw materials in tendering for asphalt fields. Asphalt including crushed roofing felt is quite similar to traditional asphalt and we have been content using it. We also collect the roofing felt waste for Tarpaper Recycling Finland Oy.

Plant Manager Aki Koivula, Kymenlaakson Jäte Oy

Certification helped commercialising the product

In the beginning of launching the idea, the company struggled getting recycling and collecting operation to run smoothly. There was also general prejudice against reusing roofing felt for asphalt production and it was difficult to get official approval for the raw material. Nowadays this is part of the asphalt norms. In 2016, the product received End of Waste-status, which means it is no longer considered as waste. It also has a CE marking. This has helped commercialising the product.

There have been surprises and challenges along the way. New ones will surely come, for example, with the texture and qualities of new roofing felt and old roofing felt when crushing the material. Since the official approval of the BitumenMix product, there has also been interest in other material solutions, which is very positive.

Country Manager Kimmo Laaksonen, Tarpaper Recycling Finland Oy

Infrastructure is the largest consumer of natural resources within the construction industry when measured in tonnes. Thus, finding new ways to use recycled materials in the field is important. Tarpaper Recycling produces around 10 000 to 15 000 tonnes of reused roofing felt annually. At the moment one third of the roofing felt received every year is used for asphalt manufacturing in Finland. According to company’s calculations if all of it was used for asphalt production, 7000-8000 tonnes of virgin bitumen could be saved. Tarpaper Recycling has also trialed BitumenMix in other uses, such as for soundproofing and in new roofing felt. In the near future, the company plans to expand its operations to foreign markets.


More information

Country Manager Kimmo Laaksonen



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