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Can Insulation Be Recycled or Reused?

Can Insulation Be Recycled or Reused?

Millions of homes across the nation are insulated, but what happens when you need to replace it? Can insulation be recycled, or can you reuse it? How do you dispose of your old insulation to decrease the environmental impact? This article will tell you everything you need to know about recycling insulation and how you can safely dispose of your old insulation.

Can You Recycle Insulation?

There are five types of insulation used in homes, including: 

Fiberglass insulation: This is one of the most common insulation materials because it’s cheap, flexible, and widely available. The insulation material consists of fine glass fibers bound together by glue and binders and formed into batts, rolls, and loose fill.

Cellulose insulation: This insulation type is made from recycled paper products, so it’s already environmentally friendly. However, it does have added chemicals to make it safe as an insulating material.

Foam insulation: Materials like polystyrene, polyurethane, and polyisocyanurate are all types of plastics used to create foam insulation. It’s often sprayed over surfaces, but can also be installed as rigid foam boards. 

Mineral wool insulation: This insulation is also known as rock wool, a man-made material created from a by-product of steel manufacturing called slag.

Natural fiber insulation: Cotton, straw, sheep wool, denim, and hemp are all popular materials used to create natural fiber insulation.

You can recycle all insulation except for cellulose. Natural fiber and mineral insulations are all 100% recyclable. It is possible to recycle fiberglass, but most recyclers won’t for various reasons.

The main reason fiberglass is not recycled is that the shredding and grinding processes destroy the strength and durability of the fibers. This process significantly limits their usefulness for other applications. The equipment required for recycling fiberglass is also expensive, so it’s not a cheap solution.

Despite the recycling issues, fiberglass is still a good choice because it is created mostly from recycled materials. It lasts for decades, and the insulation can be completely recovered and reused after a demolition.

Mineral wool insulation uses a molten material like metal slag or ceramics. It’s spun into a fiber-like material and bound together with bonding agents and glue. It has a similar appearance to fiberglass insulation, but it is denser and stiffer. Most mineral wool insulation contains around 90 percent recycled material.

Natural fiber insulation is manufactured from a variety of natural materials such as denim, sheep’s wool, hemp, cotton, and straw. These materials are often already recycled and treated to make them resistant to pests, mold, and fire.

Cotton insulation is created from about eighty-five percent recycled cotton and fifteen percent plastic fibers.

Why Cellulose Insulation is an Excellent Choice for the Environment

While cellulose is one of the most environmentally friendly insulations available, it’s not a type of insulation that can be recycled. Chemicals are added to the cellulose to make it fire and pest-resistant. The chemicals cannot be removed once added, making cellulose insulation recycling impossible.

Still, there are many great reasons to use cellulose insulation if you are looking for an environmentally responsible solution for your home. 

  • It uses a high amount of recycled products (around 80 to 85%)
  • Manufacturing uses fewer resources and energy
  • It’s created from consumer paper products which help with forestry management and renewable timber resources from planted trees

All insulation materials will have a positive impact on your energy bills and your household’s carbon footprint. Check out Attic Pros’ range of professional insulation services when considering an eco-friendly insulation solution in the Greater Bay Area.

Can You Throw Old Insulation Away?

Professional insulation installers will usually cart your old insulation away and dispose of it properly. If you’ve been stuck with the job you may be wondering what to do with old insulation.

You cannot throw old insulation away because you need to dispose of it properly so you don’t cause environmental harm. Fortunately, many waste management companies will relieve you of your old insulation and dispose of it safely. You may have to pay a processing and handling fee, but these are usually minimal.

What to Do With Old Insulation?

You don’t have many options for dealing with old insulation. While much of it can be recycled, it takes specialized equipment to do it properly. Old cellulose, fiberglass, or mineral wool insulation can be salvaged for future installation elsewhere in your home to further reduce your energy bills.

You could reuse fiberglass insulation or rock wool in your home to boost energy efficiency and improve soundproofing by installing it behind the drywall. It might also be reused and repurposed as soundproofing for a media room.

Keep in mind that the only insulation types you can reuse or repurpose are fiberglass, foam, cellulose, and mineral insulation. Always use a professional insulation and removal service to make sure the work is done safely and correctly.

How to Recycle Your Insulation

Professional installers will take care of removing your old insulation and taking it to the recycling station. However, if you are doing it yourself, carefully pack the insulation into bundles. Most recyclers will let you know how they prefer to receive your old insulation, so check with them before heading off.

Remember, the only types of insulation you can recycle are natural fiber and mineral wool insulation. You will need to drop off all other types at your local waste disposal center.

With millions of homes around the state using insulation, we must take steps to ensure we deal with old insulation responsibly. Make sure you take it to the proper facilities that can dispose of or recycle the material.

Are you considering updating the insulation in your home and want to know can insulation be recycled? Get in touch with Attic Pros today, the experts in all types of insulation for your attic or crawlspace.