Fiberglass has been one of the most complex materials to recycle for a very long time. Like most composites that aren’t known for their recyclability, fiberglass usually ends up in landfills as it reaches the end of its life. However, with the advancements in recycling, techniques have been developed to ensure that fiberglass is recycled and used as components to save energy or capital under recycling programs.
Fiberglass is recyclable. However, some factors decide if it is possible. Factors like fiberglass recycling facilities in your area, the condition of the fiberglass, and costs associated with recycling will determine if you can recycle fiberglass.
Since the introduction of fiberglass in the early 1930s as a highly versatile product, it has found a lot of uses ranging from home insulation to boats, surfboards, cars, and sporting equipment. The many benefits of fiberglass are attributed to its physical properties.
Fiberglass is solid and lightweight. It is also relatively inexpensive, making it a preferred choice in many industries.
Is Fiberglass Recyclable?
Fiberglass was considered nearly impossible to recycle until a few years ago. However, with recent advancements in recycling techniques, there are new possibilities for recycling fiberglass.
Even though there are only a few viable ways to recycle fiberglass, this is a significant improvement from when there weren’t any. With the ongoing research on the science of composite recycling, we can expect more ways to recycle fiberglass in the future.
While a lot of states in the U.S. don’t take fiberglass for recycling, there are a few that do. You have to check with your local authorities to understand if they will accept fiberglass for you to safely hand it over to them for recycling.
Many houses make use of fiberglass for insulation. Fiberglass insulation is popular because it is water and fire-resistant, has an excellent sound-absorbing ability, and keeps the house warm and cozy.
You can use it as fiberglass batts or fiberglass blown-in insulation for houses. This fiberglass insulation can be reused, and you do not have to dispose of them soon because it will end up in landfills where they do not degrade.
Depending on the fiberglass you’re dealing with, you can have one or more options to recycle it. If you have a fiberglass boat reaching its end, you will have a way to recycle it safely.
Unfortunately, unlike manufactured cars, keeping recycling in mind, boats aren’t. You will have to find a recycling program that helps you accomplish this.
We will look at how you can recycle fiberglass with some examples so you can understand the recycling process.
Be sure to follow these steps to recycle fiberglass.
How Many Fiberglass Boats Are There?
In 2017, there were 12 million registered boats in the United States. Most of those boats will end up being waste fiberglass when they reach the end of their usefulness.
Remove the Fiberglass
While you’re not going to be able to remove the fiberglass from the side of a boat, you can remove it if you’re using it as insulation in your home. Before you proceed, check with your local recycling facility to see if they accept fiberglass. Some of them do, while others don’t.
A few companies, like American Fiber Green Products American Fiber Green Products that use proprietary technology for fiberglass recycling. Since they do not have locations for pickup/drop listed on their website, you can get in touch with them and get this information to move forward.
While you remove fiberglass, you will have to be very careful. Fiberglass has tiny shards of glass that can hurt or irritate your skin. Always wear gloves, eye goggles, long shirts and pants, and a respirator when removing fiberglass. This protects you from getting hurt and prevents you from inhaling tiny glass pieces.
How Long Does Fiberglass Last in a Landfill?
Fiberglass used in the production of boats, showers, tubs, and similar products, has a life cycle of 400 years when disposed of in a landfill.
Put the Fiberglass in a Trash Bag
A trash bag of suitable thickness is sufficient to hold the fiberglass you’re disposing of in a recycling bin. In addition to checking with your local recycling program, you can contact a local industrial recycler to know whether they will recycle fiberglass. You can dispose of the fiberglass in the trash bag and be sure it will be recycled if there’s a facility in your area.
Recycling fiberglass on boats is a process that involves labor. It is not profitable, which is /”why not many people do it.
The process involves removing all recyclable parts other than fiberglass from old boats. This includes eliminating aluminum, steel, copper, brass, oil, rubber, fuel, etc. Once this is done, you have three processing methods for recycling the boat – grinding, incineration, and pyrolysis.
Of the three processing methods, pyrolysis is the most efficient and decomposes the fiberglass into pyro-gas, pyro-oil, and a solid by-product. All these three substances are recoverable. Pyro gas is similar to natural gas in its energy content, and pyro oil has similarities to heavy crude oil.
Since fiberglass contains polyester, it can be used in cement production as polyester can be used as an energy source. This reduces the use of fossil fuels in cement manufacturing. The recycling process leaves no ash or other residues.
How Long Does Fiberglass Insulation Last?
Fiberglass insulation sometimes needs to be replaced in as little as 15-20 years but should last up to 100 years in most homes.
Where Can You Recycle Fiberglass?
Your local recycler can accept fiberglass. You will have to contact them to know if they will take in fiberglass.
Usually, it is fiberglass insulation that is accepted by the recycler. They will request you to have clean fiberglass to be taken.
This is because dirty fiberglass is considered garbage and is not taken. The reason why your recycler will want clean fiberglass is that they will donate the fiberglass for reuse. Since there aren’t any reliable ways to recycle fiberglass insulation, they are helpful for reuse.
For more oversized items made out of fiberglass, like boats, you will have to look for recycling programs to take your old ships and recycle the fiberglass for industrial use. Sometimes these programs can cost more than sending your boats to landfills due to the labor cost associated with removing all the materials other than the fiberglass from the boat. However, if you want to do your part for a greener world, you can check these recycling programs to recycle your fiberglass boats.
Fiberglass is known for its strength and durability. Since they are not very well suited for recycling, you may repurpose and reuse them.
This way, you can get more life out of fiberglass and dispose of them only when they are unfit. There are many ways of repurposing fiberglass depending on your fiberglass material.
Let us take a closer look at some ways you can repurpose fiberglass.
Fiberglass Insulation Repurposing
Fiberglass batts provide house insulation and can be repurposed if they are good. You must ensure that the fiberglass material is not compromised before repurposing it. Since moisture can invite bacteria and can reduce the ability of the fiberglass batt to insulate, you will have to check to see if the insulation is severely compressed.
If you see that the insulation is matted down or compressed beyond what’s needed to get enough thermal effectiveness, also known as R-value, you will have to dispose of it.
However, if the insulation looks good, you can use it again by removing it and putting it in another place where it is needed. It is always recommended to take the help of experts with specific experience because you might expose yourself to harmful tiny shards of glass pieces if you’re handling the fiberglass insulation yourself.
DIY Fiberglass Boat Pool
If you have a fiberglass boat and dread the cost of dumping it in a landfill or recycling it, you can make it look good by making your own DIY fiberglass boat pool. You can cut out the grass underneath the area where the boat rests and clean the ship. If you want to add some colors to the boat to look good with its surroundings, you can pick up some waterproof paint and give it a desirable look.
Once you’ve finished the work, you will have a nice-looking boat you can fill water in to make it a boat pool. You can use the pool to relax while having a drink or to enjoy the outdoors and nature leisurely.
DIY Fiberglass Surfboard Art
Your old fiberglass surfboard can add a whole new look to your home. Some colors and a little imagination are all you need to make a beautiful-looking surfboard that you can use as decor inside or around your house.
Treat the surfboard as your canvas to bring the artist in you to life. The possibilities are endless.
You can do a lot more with your old fiberglass materials. Since they are non-biodegradable, please give them a new purpose with some repurposing. You will be glad you did.
Fiberglass hasn’t been easy to recycle until recently. Finding a place that will accept old fiberglass can be challenging.
If you’re lucky enough to have a facility that will take your old fiberglass, that’s great! If not, then your best bet is to try to find a way to repurpose it or throw it away if repurposing isn’t an option.